If you're finished with the book
return it. In this light
the room seems spacious
and she moves within it
like a storm, or a statue of one.
I'm trying to decide if I like it,
after the fact, in memory only,
not as something I can still taste
daily. Persimmon, for instance,
coriander, amontillado, quince,
stuff like that in quick succession
as though opening a cabinet
then shutting it again, guiltily,
perhaps accompanied by music.
We wind our watches counter-clockwise
then faint. Big Meg prepares
the laudanum as if a fairy queen
with gifts fit for the prince
or his half-sister, quiet in the bath
while he rifles the cupboard for tape.
“So we'll go no more a-roving,” he hums
as the dog follows him faithfully
like a familiar. The leaves
gather at the bottom of the slight incline
until the wind takes them away
or they rot, whichever comes first.
In the paper today was a coupon
for first Thursdays at Forest Lawn,
and Squib the caretaker seemed eager
to apply. Daddy always said
that way madness lies, but then
he should know, the old duffer.
Madame Constantine said
you can have your gold leaf back,
she has no further use for it
or for much of anything now
that all the money she invested in theater
has fallen through. Tough luck,
it's so hard these days to play “patience”
on the empty porch, by the dimity curtains,
or behind the lounge chair. It’s fun
to mind these girls on the run in undies,
the boys with pop-guns and epaulets,
all a-thrill like advancing contestants
unconvinced by the shrug the loan officer
assays in his subtle prose. Tested,
proven insusceptible to new remedies,
and gradually worse, this condition
has been raging for ages, but only now
noticed by the whistling nurse, musing,
tapping out a rhythm with long fingers.
Caught in the spotlight, the tiger knows
his time is done, yet remains eager
to express joy at his wondrous appetite,
an empty belly acting, we might say, as
the best inspiration, opening the system
to gradations of salt and protein,
some smoked, some marinated
in oils and ginger. In this game
any change of hands constitutes
a score, a fresh aside, a recovery.
Never complain that it’s not
sealed properly, the escape hatch
is necessary to your future, its
unassuming glamour just beginning
to show signs of wear, but then,
aren't we all? The young people
prefer their friends slightly grizzled,
or I meant to say puzzled, I think.
Or maybe they just like looking at aphids
and zircon, bauxite and yeast, compelled
by chronic screen savers and graceful
enjambments and the like. Were you
saving some for me? How kind.
It's at times like this I easily forget
who you really are. No,
don't quote me on that, not here.
Next year, in Toronto.
©Donald Brown 2010/2013