[WHEN THE CURTAIN RISES SHE IS STANDING]

When the curtain rises she is standing before her employer’s dressing-table,
teeth

                 aching, lip cankered. She is experimenting

with her mistress’s gestures and language. She is whittling a whale
with a knife. She is standing in knee-high grass. A wet umbrella,

a wet newspaper. The sea is far away. She is buttoning
               and unbuttoning her shirt, knocking the streaming sweat

from her forehead with the heel of her hand. She is prettying.

 

 

[HER SON SCRUBS THE STEPS, AS SHE GOES OUT WITH GLASS EYES]

Her son scrubs the steps, as she goes out with glass eyes in blue suit and tie
                to broker hedges, past canal machinery

and the green shadows of bulk-bins. Passes three porched and ungirdled
                women, yellow-soled, with chignons; a thankless eye-teeming dog
between a set of legs. “Living just to spite us,” she thinks.

 

 

[PITY THE POLICE CORNERED - THEY LOOK AS THOUGH THEY FEAR THE STEMS]

Pity the police cornered – they look as though they fear the stems
                 of marigolds. They will find the bicycle you did not know you had

                 lost. A white van passes with mats of dung on the back bumper
under early snow. A woman has the cheek of one
with an umbrella’s ferule. With the sleet, he is as a beetle seen through a glass
of water. The blood comes up a sluggish black cream, with clumsy hot lowing

throat-gulps. Well, the air is free.

 

 

[THERE IS THE LINEAR ACHE OF PINE SHADOWS]

There is the linear ache of pine shadows at the city’s horizon
and a sky of naught-black. What’s hard to convey is the space

                 you are when you step off the elevators into the apartment lobby. The
next
door TV flashing blue frames on the wall, shadows of dogs

moving on the wall drain away. Or the atrium, with its great central column
surrounded
by a miniature lake, the whole positioned between four symmetrical

                   residential towers with elevators. Surrounded by rising balconies
capped
                   by a kind of sartorial satin-brass broach or occasional bout

of heterosexual activity. Greenhouse roof at the sixth level. You are up to your
eyes.

 

 

[LEATHER SHOOTS OF TALL GRASSES]

Leather shoots of tall grasses at the red legs
                                                                                           of electrical towers, pimpled with
                                                                 bolt-heads.
The duck-pocked pond, steepled with trees and the snow-framed median’s wall
of rock
spiked with downturned tusks of ice. A cat

conning a mouse of its pups beside a foam-skinned retention
pond. They exist largely as a possibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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