Lost in the Marketplace [Prose Poem]

In 2002, I took a stroll in the marketplace and discovered I couldn’t get out. I was never lost, but neither could I escape the market. When I got home, I found that the market had spread into my home — into my very bedroom. Later, I realized that it had even dropped into my pocket, and I was carrying it with me everyplace I went. I caught a flight, thinking that — even if it caught up with me upon arrival — I’d have a few hours of precious freedom. No such luck. There, in the seat pocket.

I’ve resolved to die in the marketplace, a consumed consumer. At least the flowers will be near at hand.

POEM: Wet Market

Water snakes writhe in a plastic pan of clear water.

Massively muscled fish lie eye-up, tail jutting over air, as torsos rest on a bed of shaved ice.

The stout fish lie next to a more flexible species that are nestled into each other, which — in turn — are next to eels that are tangled in each other.

A cat alternately stalks and sprints, testing the air with an upturned nose and the safety of approach with timid feet.

Eyes up, the cat considers a plot to leap-snatch a tiger prawn.

When, like manna from heaven, a small fish — so fresh that it’s capable of “plotting” its escape in muscle spasms more than with its ill-oxygenated fish brain — flips itself off the shallow tin tray onto the ground.

The cat, an instinct-guided missile, snatches the fish in its jaws and runs through a narrow gap in the wall to a favorable dining haunt.