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Tiger and Monkey trilogy from Kate Duffy Sim

A trilogy by Kate Duffy Sim
Tiger and Monkey in Love

We loved before time, danced in the crystalline black
Of limitless space,

Shot upward in arcs, twined in a happy helix,
Merged, melted, and fell.

I broke away, spread into a web of pink pearls,
Caught you as you dropped.

You shattered my strand, pearls plummeting toward the void.
You caught them, caught me,

Tossed me toward the Light. I scattered among the stars.
you visited each,

And we danced and laughed, star to star, pearl by pearl,
Until it was time

And we were called down to this lonely blue opal,
This lonely planet,

Forgot who we were as we donned our cloaks of clay
And went separate ways.

But time after time I knew I was missing you.
Somehow I just knew.

You must have known too when we collided that day
In our cloaks of clay.

You asked me to dance. You reached out, your cloak fell back,
And your light shone through.

I knew it was you, and you knew it was me, too.
And we danced and laughed

As we used to do when we were light and color
And pearls and stars.

It was you, I knew, and it was me, before time.
We loved before time.

Tiger and Monkey Eat Chinese

It’s a silent sullen meal at a bad Chinese restaurant on a dark drippy night.
The offenses are long past, but the rancor still congeals on our tongues
like the grease on the green beans. We gag on rancid left overs.

I hate this place and he knows it.

“You never want to go where I like to go,” he whined, so here I am,
hating this place.

The misspelled menu identifies my limp appetizer as “carb raccoon.”
On another night in another year I would have laughed.

I push away the offensive plate and reveal the paper placemat below,
ringed by my tea cup and made randomly transparent by grease.

To avoid his eyes I read our Chinese horoscopes.

His - Tiger: aggressive, courageous, candid and sensitive. Look to the Horse and Dog
    for happiness.
Beware the Monkey.

Mine - Monkey: intelligent and able to influence people. An enthusiastic achiever,
    easily discouraged and confused. Seek a Dragon or Rat.
Avoid the Tiger.

The server comes to clear our plates. I want to stop her, lightly press her hand, ask her for
100 more placemats

To paper the walls of our home
To hang in a frame replacing our ketubah
To fold into a paper airplane and fly myself back to 30 years ago
To roll up and smoke something that will make me forget the Dragons and Rats that I
To cover the bed as we roll on them, soil them with our own juices, and laugh at fate
and the place to which we have brought ourselves.

Tiger and Monkey Dance

The old dog plunges under the table just as the lightbulb explodes.
Creature of nature, she feels the barometer plummet when I scream
“You lying bastard!”
Instinct cautions her to go to ground before I can shatter more glass.

Equally canny, he reclines against the wall, hand over his eyes.
He also knows what this cycling tornado, this chronic storm brings:
Thundering false threats, searing stabs of cruel insult, his passivity decried as his confession.
I slam! slam! more doors, chairs crash against the sideboard,
a coffee cup is swept away in the gale.
I exhaust myself and stand still but trembling, my face raining tears.

The storm has blown out to sea and now he may launch.

He drops his shielding hand, walks slowly to me, takes me gently in his arms.
We rock back and forth. I sob into his shoulder.
“We should have more fun,” he says. “Maybe play ping pong.”
I giggle damply. We sway.
He is so solid, solid as the earth, as the firm clay below us.

Behind my closed eyes the phantom ping pong ball is a white point of light in flight,
volleying, soaring, gone wild and lost,
retrieved and replayed.
I see us laugh and dart
back and forth at odds and angles across the table,
dipping and diving, swinging and sweating,
opponents on the same team,
stretched but not separated.

We have danced this dance before.
I knew it was you when your light shone through.

It was me, do you remember?
It was you, before time.
I’ll love you for all time.

Bio: Kate Duffy Sim is retired from the IUPUI Department of English and reveling in her second incarnation as a part-time retail clerk and full-time grandmother. Time and mood permitting, she paints and sings. Sometimes at the same time. Her fledgling website celebrates the coming of age of women who are no longer maidens or mothers, but now glorious crones. The "Tiger and Monkey" trilogy is an attempt to capture the beauty of reincarnated love and is dedicated to her husband, Charlie.