EUCLID STREET - Digby Augustus Stewart Mackworth Dolben Poems

 
 

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EUCLID STREET

She stands on the porch, late.
The same light she saw as a child
pins the mountain ash
to the grass scattered with berries.
Behind her, the room she was born in
and the one where she hid her body
to protect, like a secret
until she could get it safely away.

There were always too many lives in other rooms --
the anxious man tied to a job for fifty years
till the company paid him off
with a piece of the building mounted
on a bronze plaque. He needed to drink
to see the joke. And the timid woman
who filled the house with her bright red heart
asking for nothing except a life.

When they fought she would cower
in the shrinking corners with her four sisters,
each one planning escape into the arms of someone
they would also have to abandon.
Love is like that. It's the need
you run from and return to
always circling back to where you started
like somebody lost.

The houses retreat behind doors and the racoons
begin their scuttle across the tired lawns,
stopping to drink from sprinklers
spreading a thin rain against the drought.
She remembers the street the child lived on --
a snow-tunnel, its ten-foot drifts pocked with holes
she hid inside and watched --
the street edged with the ditch that swelled
to a sucking mouth in the spring
and took her down once
into its belly.

Behind the doors other lives taunted
with their order on loan from Eaton's,
their sleek, stubborn brightness
colluded in, like guilt.
Mr. Goodman drank himself to death when the kids left
and Mrs. Adams finally cleaned herself into a corner
of the livingroom you couldn't enter with shoes.

Each family carries its load of ordinary pain.
She's taken ten years
to know this, standing on a porch thinking
of the slow decantation of lives
and she can't put together its meaning.