Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Train

Dear Jane,

I received you book with the mail
this week and will take time to read it.
Soon. Perhaps under the vine
which I can’t kill. It’s creeping
up the deck’s side again,
has wrapped itself through the maple tree.
Is this symbiosis or is this invasion?
The vine needs the maple,
not the maple the vine.

Since Christmas, I’ve been writing tears.
I’ve been an angel, I’ve been a whore,
I’ve been strong, I’ve been weak,
I’ve been busy cleaning
and preparing to go to court.

John wants, John wants and emails me
each slightly altered proposition.
When I refuse, he shuffles the words,
but it’s always the same train,
determined on its track,
though the whistle bursts for intersecting streets
may vary in their tone and rhythm.

I no longer want to arrive
at destinations by train.

Your advice that I return
to writing was good, though I wonder
at crying short poems. Although I write
about the day-to-day, it doesn’t feel real,
these snippets about Jeff and Diane,
my returning to school, the lines cut short
with metre and rhyme.
There are also poems about Maggie.
I miss her for the walks we took,
for the times, late at night,
while sitting in a dark room, wondering why
I stayed with John, her blazing eyes would tell me
she loved and understood more than I.

More and more often, I’m tempted
by the though of taking off my wristwatch,
placing it in a drawer and slamming it shut.
Shut. Until time stops and with time,
this flood of words. I’m tired
of words, so tired of their placement,
their interpretation, their dance
on the tracks and roadways
we call life—so tired of the fact
we communicate with cold,
lifeless lumps called words.

Today on the way home
from grocery shopping,
I was driving down King Street
when I saw the lights come on ahead
for an approaching train. I turned right
down Victoria Street and drove
two streets past the station
before crossing the rail line without waiting
until the Toronto commuters
reached their destination.

I’ll read your book, promise, but not now,
not now while I play musical words with John.

Be well. Love, Carol.

I hope this poem makes sense. It's number five of a series of letters from Carol to Jane. It covers a number of years in Carol's life and how Carol is, I hope, changing and growing as a person. Helm.


Laurel said...

I think you note at the end is funny, because for me the poem's greatest weakness is that it makes too much sense. There doesn't seem to be any mystery in it, despite a dramatic tone.

H. W. Alexy said...

Thanks Laurel. With me it's usually the other way around, too much mystery. Too close to prose then? What I was referring to was the cast of characters as far as who's who goes.


Pris said...

Stanza's two and three are your strongest, in my opinion. They're fresher.

H. W. Alexy said...

Thanks Pris, I'm working on a revision at my usual plodding pace.