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Reading(s)

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


Today I would like to be only the woman in the poem,
the one whose name we don't know, or where she came from.
There's a moment when she raises her head or descends a staircase,
perhaps the moment before she has fallen definitively in love,
and the outlook, her destination, are not indicated.
She is fully present in this poem. At its heart lies desire,
hers for whatever will happen, the poet's for the moment's complicity.
Everything around the woman is clear and intense, urging her towards
what is happening outside the poem. Her foot is raised.
As she begins to step forward she turns her head and

I imagine myself stepping through this poem as if it were a membrane.
I'm standing at the foot of a flight of stairs leading to a door.
If I climb them I will find myself looking into the room where
the poet sits. His head leans over the paper on which he is inscribing
a woman's progress across a room. She has turned her head, smiling,
as she leaves to meet someone who, within a year, will become her lover.
The poet hasn't yet foreseen the outcome of that meeting. I have
imagined his eyes (they are a particular pale blue like winter sky)
lifting to see me framed in this doorway. He is startled. He thought
she had gone. He stands and smiles as he steps towards me and

Outside the poem a woman sits on a streetcar reading, her head
leaning against the window. She reads about a woman leaving
both a room and a man, a smile on her lips, on her way
to meet (though she may not know it) her new lover. Then
she reads another poem about a woman entering a room to find
a man seated at a desk writing, so absorbed in his hand moving
across the paper he doesn't notice her. The woman reading is
restless, the streetcar is noisy, the day is sunny. She looks
up from her book to see dull factories along an almost empty
street. She has forgotten where it was she was going.



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


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