|Jan/Feb 2006 Poetry Special Feature|
The Blue Coat
On the other side of King Street,
opposite the dairy, a neat stone wall,
with trees behind and a high gate.
If he had ways to summon up the dead
he'd go back there one night, break
the orphanage's locks and pass in
through a door or window. In the sallow light
seeping in, he'd tread thin carpet, down
empty halls with flaking eggshell paint,
and breathe the air, vile with bleach and cabbage.
He'd listen, then he'd make his way
drawn by the sounds of sleeping,
to discover one awake. She'd see him,
know why he was there and turn her back.
And he'd stop, stand on the threshold:
"I lied about the coat," is all he'd say.
What's left? just the debris
of droning days and long,
slavish nightsóbody drained
and stained, flesh bled
and soul tied. I love your art,
your treasure's a delight, but
I won't miss your vile philosophy.
The sky's eggshell blue,
the clear air nourishes a day
to turn base metal underfoot
into something precious,
to summon the blood, lifting
fretful bone, untwisting
muscle. A day to walk
on sands, stand in a mistral.
A day to disappear.
I have to tell you: two's
a crowdódon't make
those orphanage eyes at me.