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Behind the Red Brick House

J. Hugh MacDonald
From:   The Digging of Deep Wells. Black Moss Press, Windsor, Ontario, 1997.


Charlottetown P.E.I. 1955


Doctor Joe and Colin
and the twins
stand in soggy sleeves
behind their house.
They lay the water down
in shining pools
night after night
and on frost crisp mornings
break up shells
of tinkle ice
that mar the thickening surface
then melt it down
with steaming floods
and leave for the office and school
impatient for the work to end

Soon come nights
when hoards of children
shove inside the changing shed
fill lungs with kerosene charged air
or sit and wheeze
and tie their skates
on ice-lump mounds
along the edge

Captains toss
an out-of-season bat
pick shouting teams
and nets are coats
or husks of snow
With eyes like young owls
we stick handle
around figure-skating girls
and flirting pairs
"no lifties" is the rule
but pucks still fly
we scramble over the banks
and mine mounds of drift

We play 'til toes are trapped
laces locked in hanging icicles
We're never more awake
than when we leave
and crunch along streets
sticks across shoulders
hobo style
our skates
lace-hung and steaming
at our backs
and once in bed
we sleep so fast
and dream
of how we'll play
the next game
and the next.



J. Hugh MacDonald's works copyright © to the author.


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