Saturday, November 12, 2005

15. THE WOMAN ON THE MALL - Robert Dana

That morning
is only as you remember it

And a woman
walks the green mall lightly
in her own light summer dress

She is neither the woman
who started toward you
nor she who will finally arrive

At your window
the first white insects of winter
sting the glass


Morning blows from the northwest

Around her everywhere elms are dying
Teeth shriek in their carcasses
All day they will fall for burning

Her heart beats in her ears
Her breath is wet silver
She walks the weeds barefoot speaking their names to the water

Buckhorn Lambsquarters Sheep-Sorrel
Yellow Rocket Black Medic Heal-All

Fish tug the sun into a dozen silent targets on the lake

It is all there
the emptiness gentle in her hands


She is not herself
There is nothing she has not wanted

But the room has kept to its own whiteness

She has seen the sky gather on the river
seen it skid over the falls into a flock of water
Wind slid over her arm like warm nylon

Knowing that yes is a question, she’d loved him
she did not need
to be able to say so

But waking into his room
her breath itches
with something he left no trace of

The room is too clean too cold
Its edges peck at her like an old address
she is too young to forget

Should she consult her marvellous shoes
they would tell her nothing
five floors above the ground

Let her walk down to the morning fire-haired
trailing her darkness behind her into the wet grass
Let her enter the schoolroom of broken children

She will teach them to touch their anger with the tips of their fingers