Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Prophecy

Long ago, once, an elderly widow
Who owned a home in Lansing, Michigan,
Suburban-style house, smack in downtown, died.

Her estate attorney rented part out
To a young couple who lived in the back--
A dark, chilly, two-room with kitchenette.

The attorney didn’t know the couple
Were actually runaway teenagers
Who worked minimum-wage at Burger King,

Owning and affording nothing, who ate
Most of their diet from food scrounged at work.
They were just to keep someone in the house

And pay a little rent, while paperwork
On the estate kept it off the market
A few months. One of the couple, a boy,

Discovered he could break into the front
Parlor of the house through a back-room’s door.
The lawyer kept the front of the house warm,

Mysteriously, with no one in it.
Mornings that winter, on days without shifts,
The boy would slip into the dusty warmth

And direct sunlight of the gold parlor,
With a paper sack of smuggled burgers
From work, and settle on the large sofa

To spend hours with a dog-eared paperback
A customer had left at Burger King,
Frank Herbert’s Dune. In level sun and dust,

In an overheated, overstuffed room
Filled with a dead woman’s dense furnishings,
The boy read, as if hallucinating,

An invented world of invented words.
Shadout Mapes. Kwisatz Haderach. Muad’dib.
All the rest of them, as the dust floated,

And outside was winter, old, grimy snow.
He lived a long time, that boy, there and then,
A long time after, as well. He survived

To view a version in a theater
In an open desert, two thousand miles
And decades removed from that dusty room.

It was the light of the widow’s parlor
That came to haunt him in the theater.
The wondertale prophesies its own past.

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