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Recluse

Don Coles
From:   Anniversaries. MacMillan of Canada, 1979, p 6


Each summer the youngest ones, primary sights
Of first day back in cottage country safely seen,
Patrol off down the beach road among tall grass,
Cooling cars and their own dwindling voices
To check up on her, rattle a stone

Off a shuttered window if that's their mood:
It usually is. Movements then behind
Grey glass curtains in the loft — life, its reductio,
Still going on. Chalk one up, another cold season
Survived, for the District Nurse, the Country Visitor,

Sanitary Inspector, or who can say what diminished,
Obscurely-working purpose. That old next-door house has
Changed hands again, we notice, easy to understand
Though nobody else here ever sells — she hangs on,
Cats, rubbish, east-wind smells and all,

Insulated by age and junk from what's below: which is
Us, our unregarded passages, and infinitely nearer her
(How near, surmisable minds can't grasp),
Boxes of Latin readers and notes from Commencement Day
Speakers, Thank you Mr. McLintock, all you taught me,

Admired progenitor who died in time. How could
He know, or an extrapolated mother, loony years
Afterwards not their fault. Since then
The acrid cats and this, layered in sour cardigans,
Wool socks, multiple musty dresses like

A smuggler in long hiding, occasional apparition
To the strayed evening children.
"This is the spade Father used to turn
The stream. He dug the trench here. He said,
Have you ever seen so much goldenrod?"



Don Coles's works copyright © to the author.


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