Женская поэзия

Борсон Ру (Roo Borson)

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From Night Walk, Selected Poems
Oxford University Press, Toronto, 1994

The tree which untangles
at the far end of the noisy meadow
stands apart from evening,
does not own itself.
Birds come to it and go
because it is like another
because they are like others.

Free of the sun
which is said to tangle other branches,
it is free of the gossip of likenesses,
and the stars do not sit in it.

The fruit of this tree,
if it has any,
is not seen in the unaided light,
and the eye which sees it
loses need of mirrors,
the eye-shaped slit
in the mask which an animal
that comes out now to hunt for sustenance

Save us from night,
from bleak open highways
without end, and the fluorescent
oases of gas stations,
from the gunning of immortal
engines past midnight,
when times has no meaning,
from all-night cafes,
their ghoulish slices of pie,
and the orange ruffle on the
apron of the waitress,
the matching plastic chairs,
from orange and brown and
all unearthly colours,
banish them back to the test tube,
save us from them,
from those bathrooms with a
moonscape of skin in the mirror,
from fatigue, its merciless brightness,
when each cell of the body stands on end,
and the sensation of teeth,
and the mind's eternal sentry,
and the unmapped city
with its cold bed.
Save us from insomnia,
its treadmill,
its school bells and factory bells,
from living rooms like the tomb,
their plaid chesterfields
and galaxies of dust,
from chairs without arms,
from any matched set of furniture,
from floor-length drapes which
close out the world,
from padded bras and rented suits,
from any object in which horror is concealed.
Save us from waking after nightmares,
save us from nightmares,
from other worlds,
from the mute, immobile contours
of dressers and shoes,
from another measureless day, save us.

Old shoes,
where are you taking me now?
You who've spent a night in the Pacific
farther out than I dared to go --
and I found you again, bedraggled in the morning,
separated from each other by fifty feet of beach,
salt in all your seams, and sand, and seaweed.
That time I thought you were lost for good.
Old shoes, the first my grown feet accepted
without the deep ache that comes
of trying on what others have meant for me. Don't worry,
it's me they're laughing at, those who find us unfashionable.
Our last day upright on the earth
we'll fit each other still.
Don't let them trick you into sorrow.
If they stow you in a box that's too small
in the depths of some unfamiliar closet, remember
the walks we took, the close
companionship of shoes and feet.
Remember the long
mouthwatering days, each place
we rested, just taking it in. We took it in
for a reason, for the time when they'll stow us away
where there is nothing to see, to do, to feel.
And when you've relived it all as much as you need,
when you tire of standing still,
remember the imperceptible holes, how they tore and grew,
the socks, pair by pair, those soft
kittens that came between us, playful, how soon
the walking wore them down.

It is dusk. The birds sweep low to the lake and then dive
up. The wind picks a few leaves off the ground
and turns them into wheels that roll
a little way and then collapse. There's nothing like branches
planted against the sky to remind you
of the feel of your feet on the earth, the way your hands
sometimes touch each other. All those memories,
you wouldn't want them over again, there's no point.
What's next, you ask yourself.
You ask it ten thousand times.

And then approaches the last ferry, our antics die down, and we wait quietly, if a little reluctantly, but tired and ready, for we are not perpetual motion machines, as the ferry glides in for that random thud, wood against wood, the signal that we can board. Or we could board, except for the uniformed gentleman who, every twenty minutes, back and forth from the mainland, holds departing and prospective passengers at bay, with great ceremony, and finally, at his pleasure, unhooks the rope.
Engine, captain, lifebuoys aside, the essence of the ferry is wood, which floats upon water, and whose varnished grain, in the last rays, gives off such homesickness. Homesickness for the forest, for that primeval state which we have just shaken off so that we might return to the city, to a life in which each transaction must be earned and paid for.

The brief return trip is thus imbued with the momentousness of our voluntary parting from what we think of so fondly as our true nature; a willful sacrifice, an anguish indistinguishable from the ease of coming back to a fmailiar life. At sundown another ship drifts nearby. Music comes from it, and soon there will be dancing. The ship is tiered, lit up like the birthday cake of a prince or a queen as seen from childhood, a childhood in which only what was codified seemed beautiful. For back then we had to build everything up from nothing, ignorant of the means, that the goal might be merely to reach these very moments in which we flirt with the impulse to demolish all. That foolish notion of courage. And yet finally our image of happiness is complete, insatiable! To live it all again, but this time with full consciousness, saturated with consciousness.

Those nights. They came after days during which my father's cigarette glowed like a rose caught in sunset on a distant hillside. Then he would stub it out and night would fall.
The air would be traversed by strange scents emanating from night-blooms, and the passion vine broadcast for miles around its coded message, wound along the trellis. The fruit dangled, frosted with silver and fur, and inside: a smile of translucent teeth, a mouth full of smuggled jewels. The honeysuckle threaded everything with white and yellow trumpets, evaporating in a sweet gas. So sweet that one inhalation inflames the nostrils and after that is no longer detected.

All night long my parents slept, breathing it, my mother facing that darkened place she would always roll toward, the open window to the wild hill. And my father next to her under the light, fallen asleep in the middle of himself as in a field he'd been crossing, the book still open beneath his fingers, and the circling moths, with wings of powdered lead, whirling shadows around his face.


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