Whether by fate or careful planning,
the visitor, searching for the deep
wisdom that only comes with maturity,
corporealized on the Alzheimer’s
floor of a run-down nursing home,
found himself in a spinning galaxy
of forgetful and forgotten grandmas
and grandpas, all of them muddled
and disheveled, and with bits of lunch
decorating their soft wrinkled chins.
He never did report back to his home
world – he’s still there, keeping out of
sight of the nurses, everybody’s favorite
nephew, though he seems to bear little
family resemblance to anyone at all.
The traveller traverses the kaleidoscopic
origami folds of interdimensional
space, counting his steps as he follows
an oblique course through gravitational
fluxes and clouds of asteroidal dust,
along shimmering streams of solar plasma,
across lava flows, sulfur lakes, desolate
sunbaked rocky plains and finally
into the smoke-filled alleyways of Zagreb,
Bangkok, Nairobi, Mexico City.
He scarcely notices the slow-moving
inhabitants of this neon-drenched landscape,
intent on survival and dreams of pleasure,
he steps again, alert for slight telltale
discrepancies in the periphery of his vision.
A ripple, almost imperceptible, moves
through a crowded Mumbai slum,
a Sao Paulo commuter’s heart skips a beat,
in a Texas town north-facing windows go
opaque for a fraction of a second.
The traveller steps, counts, recalibrates,
slips between the here and the now.
In the blink of an eye a million doors open
and close again with an inaudible sigh.
The thing is
he doesn’t know why they come
to him, it’s certainly not
his good looks (by what standard?)
or his intellect-
perhaps it’s his openness to the new
and the different.
He’s never been saddled with silly
about skin pigment,
unfashionable body types
or unconventional constellations of
scales, fur, antennae,
gills, the odd flexible tentacle or two
or twelve – in any case,
they do come,
are drawn to him, one might say,
and across considerable distances –
and he gives them what he can,
a sharing, a cross-cultural experience
they can tell
their methane-breathing cousins
about, a bit of warmth
in a cold, cold galaxy.
Sometimes at night he’ll gaze up
at the stars,
so distant, and wonder just how far
his terrestrial applesmay have fallen from the tree.
Bio: Jeffrey Park's poetry has appeared most recently in Danse Macabre, The Rainbow Journal, In Parentheses, and the science fiction anthology Just One More Step from Horrified Press. A native of Baltimore, Jeffrey currently lives in Munich, Germany, where he works at a private secondary school. Links to all of his published work can be found at www.scribbles-and-dribbles.