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Cleaning Cupboards

Maureen Scott Harris
From:   Vintage 95: League of Canadian Poets National Poetry Contest. Quarry Press, 1996.


I'm wearing the belt buckle you gave me like a talisman
but still I say "Don't touch me!", my body lax
and uneasy, intent on something I haven't recognized.
There is a pasture emptying my head, I'm falling through space,
and I haven't asked you if there's a difference between
departure and drowning. The life I made up is so solid.
How can I be evaporating in the midst of it?

I wish I could walk towards you with flames flaring
from my shoulders. I wish I were rising like the fish
in your dreams, from some green river, sequined, glittering,
as lissome as snakes among the leaning ferns.

There are nineteen glasses, two egg cups, two shot glasses,
a coffee mug and a small bin of measuring cups and spoons
on the shelf I've just cleaned and four more cupboards to go.
It's the end of August and the rain is falling at last
creeping up through the basement drain with its burden
of dirt and old leaves, teasing the laundry heaped on the floor.
All this cleaning and things still grow musty.

Once you said to me "If I left my wife now it would be
to live in a cave". Today I've gotten my words wrong twice,
and still I say "I can't do this!" I don't know
what I'm waiting for, I don't even know
what life I would make up for myself if I could
find the door out of this house. Something
I haven't got words for. What I want.



Maureen Scott Harris's works copyright © to the author.


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