On special days you’ll see
people go to the street of flowers—
where farangs like me
buy roses and orchids—
special days like birthdays
or when a young man
enters the monkhood,
they buy jasmine garlands
to grace the spirit house pedestaled
in a sunlit spot outside their home.
It’s well-known that offerings
of flowers, food and incense
attract favorable spirits;
that special offerings encourage
them to join family affairs. Here,
the short-haired elderly woman—
she lives in small a room
off my landlord’s summer kitchen—
tends the old-style spirit house
inside my gate. I see her every day.
Tomorrow you arrive on Pan Am One.
To make your welcome perfect,
I’m buying two garlands. One,
I’ll bring with me to the airport.
John Hicks is a New Mexico poet. He has been published by I-70 Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Bangor Literary Journal, The Blue Nib, Verse-Virtual, and others. He writes in the thin mountain air of the southern Rockies.