A Minuscule Wedge of  Zen Brain-Space
Terri Brown-Davidson

“Like all extraordinary people, you lack empathy,” the woman said.
I gazed at the dark-rose hat wedged over her eyes.
At her face, tightly lined around a mouth that crimped
and whistled her utterances—a few pulled teeth, blackened cavities—

but she was right: I experienced no inner hemorrhaging.
Not that I was a Randian,
elevating my objectivist soul like a blue star blazing across
an otherwise darkened firmament,

obliterating all subtler planets in my pulchritudinous wake;
no, I was simply quiet, striving to achieve an ecstasy
this woman would never accept, a Zen consciousness
that would aid me when I died, though—then—I was only twenty-five,

with Hedy Lamarr looks that made both men and women stop and stare
at me on the street. “Just stand there,” most of them pleaded,
“and let me look at you for a second,” a sentiment that might have inflated
more burgeoning egos than mine, which was striving, always, to shrink.

What I savored, even then, was a minuscule wedge of Zen brain-space,
a silent corner inside my skull where I could retreat, tremble, dwell in the air
of a rarefied thought-world, though, with my “sumptuous auburn hair,”
“green, pantherlike eyes” and “stunningly voluptuous figure,”

I was an unlikely candidate for the masses
to abandon me to incognitohood, the masses who plucked
the most gorgeous purple-black iris Georgia O’Keeffe ever painted
and judged it as pure flower, as shimmer and violet facade, as glinting
lacquered finish when it was the underenergy that drove it, the dark
yawning maw of self that I courted with a fervency
I found dismaying though I could never, ever stop
until middle age exposed the hole.