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Short poem

Rosemary Sullivan (1947-)

Euclid Street

              1She stands on the porch, late.
              2The same light she saw as a child
              3pins the mountain ash
              4to the grass scattered with berries.
              5Behind her, the room she was born in
              6and the one where she hid her body
              7to protect, like a secret
              8until she could get it safely away.

              9There were always too many lives in other rooms --
            10the anxious man tied to a job for fifty years
            11till the company paid him off
            12with a piece of the building mounted
            13on a bronze plaque. He needed to drink
            14to see the joke. And the timid woman
            15who filled the house with her bright red heart
            16asking for nothing except a life.

            17When they fought she would cower
            18in the shrinking corners with her four sisters,
            19each one planning escape into the arms of someone
            20they would also have to abandon.
            21Love is like that. It's the need
            22you run from and return to
            23always circling back to where you started
            24like somebody lost.

            25The houses retreat behind doors and the racoons
            26begin their scuttle across the tired lawns,
            27stopping to drink from sprinklers
            28spreading a thin rain against the drought.
            29She remembers the street the child lived on --
            30a snow-tunnel, its ten-foot drifts pocked with holes
            31she hid inside and watched --
            32the street edged with the ditch that swelled
            33to a sucking mouth in the spring
            34and took her down once
            35into its belly.

            36Behind the doors other lives taunted
            37with their order on loan from Eaton's,
            38their sleek, stubborn brightness
            39colluded in, like guilt.
            40Mr. Goodman drank himself to death when the kids left
            41and Mrs. Adams finally cleaned herself into a corner
            42of the livingroom you couldn't enter with shoes.

            43Each family carries its load of ordinary pain.
            44She's taken ten years
            45to know this, standing on a porch thinking
            46of the slow decantation of lives
            47and she can't put together its meaning.


37] Eatonís: former nation-wide Canadian department store.

Online text copyright © 2004, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Rosemary Sullivan or Black Moss Press permissions department.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The Space a Name Makes (Toronto: Black Moss Press, 1986): 20-21. PS 8587 .U52 S6 Robarts Library
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2004
Recent editing: 1:2004/7/15

Other poems by Rosemary Sullivan