Sunday, 22 November 2020

wrong turn

by Eve Rifkah

I walk into a spa, a bodega, a superette, a groceria
all faces unrecognizable

caught in mid-breath
all eyes focus
I the stranger
more lost than ever

all eyes focus
they wear the same plaid shirt
silence breaks across rows
of cans with muted labels of strange fruits,
coffee, corn meal, dairy creamer from the US

I ask the way beyond twisted streets
that end in dry fountains
blocked doorways
muffled birdsong

all eyes focus
on my confusion
pale skin
short skirt

the silence broken by scratches
as a raven walks across a counter
the motion breaks,
a still life of silent men,  brown roots
bulbous tubers

the men come to life
wave their arms attempt language
caws catch in their mouths
ricochet across the aisles
screech arrows into me

I spin in the doorway
face the blinding light of midday
run past dry fountains
through a stone arch that starts to crumble
stones rolling beneath my feet
gritgrey dust grabs my clothes, my skin 
I run to the next corner
where intersecting streets have no names
turn toward the scent of spices, yeast, perfumes, gasoline
race breath clogged
into crash of sound
rumble of traffic, of people
too many people all    
laughing, yelling, snarling, 
swirling in a ragged dance 

I stumble into a spa, a bodega, a superette, a groceria
all the faces unrecognizable  

* * * * *

Eve Rifkah was co-founder of Poetry Oasis, Inc. (1998-2012), a non-profit poetry association dedicated to education and promoting local poets. Founder and editor of DINER, a literary magazine with a 7-year run. MFA Vermont College.

She is author of Dear Suzanne (WordTech Communications, 2010) and Outcasts: the Penikese Leper Hospital 1905-1921 (Little Pear Press, 2010). Chapbook Scar Tissue (Finishing Line Press, 2017), At the Leprosarium, 2003 winner of the Revelever Chapbook Contest.


  1. Stirs a similar surreal anxiety I felt watching an Ingmar Bergman film for the first time. I don't remember which film, I was probably stoned and feeling strange at the time anyway. This poem is sort of a flashback. Dark magic.

    1. Thank you, Mathew, being likened to Bergman is the highest praise that I can imagine