And these are my failings:
a wild smile always leads my mind
to the kiss hiding behind it
and sometimes to plot
the shortest route there.
Did I say sometimes? I lie a bit, too.
And I tend to zone out to small-talk
like there aren’t already
enough idle words in the world.
I often wonder – where do they go,
those wasted words once they’re spoken?
And I can’t warm to people,
despite how I try.
I’m lying again – I don’t try at all.
I’d much rather hide
with The Boss or Miss Del Rey,
alone in the dark
ignoring that night
in my fourteenth year
when my father got drunk,
made me drive his ute home –
the soft bump and loud bark,
the crimson accusation,
coagulating on his tyre
Advertisement for Myers Gloves, by Margaret Watkins (Canada), 1920s.
Strong enough to lift me
each time I couldn’t rise. Soft
as cotton wool, washing
dirt from scrapes and tears
from eyes. Firm enough
to model clay
and boys, to bowls
and men, yet fine
when stroking ivory keys–
Für Elise and Clair de Lune.
They’d curl through each long evening
around her only vice, in a holder
like Audrey’s, that never left her side.
I’m thinking of her hands now–
strong and wild and free; missing
her hands now, as I watch ashes
blow to sea.
You will never fall in love with me.
Don’t try to convince me
That I will always wait for you.
If you really look, you’ll see
I’m not here for the long haul
You give me reason to stay.
When things get hard I’ll leave –
I’m not like the others,
I’ll never say
I love you.
(Now read from bottom to top,
my bleeding heart undone.)
Birds don’t stop in this town.
I see them fly past, black peppering
blue, going someplace. I’ve given up
dreaming wings. This town
will know my bones. Condoms
sell well in Joe’s corner store – boredom breeds
but breeding’s a trap, a twitch in the smile
of those steel-eyed shrews
who linger late after church.
I walked half a day, out past the salt flats,
after they closed the movie house down. Smoked
the joint she’d brought back from college
when she returned to bury my dad.
I remember how pale her fingers lay
across my father’s hands –
coal miner’s hands, tarred like his lungs;
like this town.