Cleaning ladies & The father weeds
[ poetry - december 04 ]
It isn't the lead water guns carried by
who walk with nauseous strides beside my corpse that
lures my eyes to the mirror's taped crack.
Luke warm assaults
pepper the broadloom.
a night of halftone stars made a collar around my neck.
The rash too dark to see - too rich to feel.
Hotel napkins, shampoos, matches, in ruinous stacks.
Giant cupboards full of hotel stationary, towels.
Invalid helicopters crash through the bedroom window
chopping at my corporeal estate, lying under tactful duvet.
The next morning I find no traces in the hexed mirror.
The father weeds
Maybe, as I move from the barrel of sheets
And sandbags of sun spent pillows; I can recall the
Colour of the moth's wings as it carried the object
Yes, it was first in that charcoal dream where I saw the
Bell shaped ruin placed neatly in your mouth.
Something completely out of place, lodged in your jaw.
You spit it out and woke up.
I did not put it there, it had swarmed you,
It had a pollen scent, maybe it was honey.
There have been several minutes this morning
Where I have done nothing but rub the corduroy skirt
That lies at the foot of the bed.
I hold you close to me now, in the lukewarm
Broth we wade deep back and forth pushing skin
Until we have a real hold that smells like sugar or
When I start to tell you about my father
You will look at my face to see if I've become him.
This is what I tell myself.
You will never meet him.
Because I have.
What we do, instead of meeting my father.
We shop for food, grow into each other's shirts
And wade at municipal pools. We exchange eye
Colours and recipes, we trade on a corporeal level,
Beyond the code of genes.
It never ends. We commute to one another;
As age old concrete tears at our denim.
Can the marigolds I planted twenty years ago
Make a come back? Repel the insects from ebbing
My father's senseless suburban crop?
The zucchinis swallowed the yard
With their tentacles, the tomatoes
And green beans too had their say
In the green tangle.
All weekend long he picked at the virile weeds
In his out-of-office experience.
Using cratered hands and knees screwing
Against the earth his toughened gut hung dry
From the tight out-of-print yellow
Cotton t-shirt that was never thrown out.
He toiled, sweated, tanned; his cuticles cut the soil,
Pinching the nerves of the unwanted plants
Until the early morning tide of light
Witnessed him with a pen sell the land.
He left the weeds behind.
Those joints had done their domestic
Pantomime, but the job was never done.
Now, with similar movement, in far off retirement
Package he has designed inside of himself,
He darns his cheek against a swollen tea bag.
Each year another stitch is added, melds slowly.
In April for his birthday I catch him, with the needle
Through his cheek, he answers the telephone,
Which sometimes transmits my voice.
The dried leaves sealed in their filter,
Have become new stubble.
But he never drinks.
No one tells him to let it steep.
No one stops him.
No one pulls his cratered hand
From the threaded eye.
He does no more weeding
In his big trailer backyard.
He has become one of them,
A prickly creature given nutrients,
Allowed a space. A growth pattern.
My father's tongue is a spade,
His narrow jaw hurtles
Into the night of dreams
That never pokes from the earth.
He has, at last, collapsed
Into perennial shade, the path
Of an unrecovered seed.
Too many silent days,
Lodged between him and his hands.
I will plant this memory no further.
Because I cannot grow this way.
Or refuse to try.