mc escher
Reincarnation
by Lee Parpart

To pluck words
from air like
winter grapes
shot through
with noble
rot, knowing
I’ll land every
line with the
pungent
clarity of a
Bordeaux
muscadelle.

To delight
party guests
with jaunty
ragtime riffs
when festivities
start to flag,
and to have
a good joke
ready in
French,
Russian, or
Cantonese
in case of
bored
Péquistes
or dull
visiting
diplomats.

To re-start
the wild
staccato
heart of a
struggling
passenger
somewhere
over the
Atlantic,
arriving at
Heathrow
a modest
hero, and to
cut a lean,
straight line
pirouetting
en pointe for
assembled
fans.

Only ten,
maybe twelve,
more turns
around the
board,
assuming
steady
forward
momentum
and no more
lives spent
rolling karmic
dung across
an endless
Serengeti.

IMAGE: “Scarabs” by M.C. Escher (1935).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It would take a lot of lives to master all of the skills I greedily imagined in response to this prompt [lumped together under the single skill “reincarnation”].  And although the dung beetle is depicted here as a low point for a human facing the possibility of reincarnation, dung beetles are hugely beneficial insects, reducing greenhouse emissions and helping farmers by burying animal waste. I could do worse than to spend a couple of lives rolling poo around the desert.

lee parpart

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Parpart won a typewriter in a Scholastic Inc. fiction contest in high school. It was a real workhorse, and she used it to write a bunch more poems and short stories, only to run away from creative writing at 18 after a guy in his forties who had published a couple of books invited her to lunch, insisted she try frog’s legs, and informed her that the prose sample she shared was “not great.” She recently returned to poetry and fiction after admitting both were central to her happiness and realizing she was insane to have listened to frog leg man in the first place. Her poems and stories have appeared in Hegira and Silver Birch Press, and her academic essays on cinema and TV have appeared in numerous books and journals. See leeparpartpoems.wordpress.com.