… poetry, by Canadian poet Evelyn Lau
This poem was published in The Walrus, a Canadian magazine, in 2007. I picked up the magazine a few times to reread it and finally tore out the page and set it on my nightstand. I found it again today, and it filled me with longing for my east coast beach as acutely as it did 14 years ago. It feels very tactile to me and sad in a raw sort of way. It did serve to propel me outdoors, and that seems like a worthy cause to me, so I’m sharing.
Today I chose it over the ocean.
Over the trees, their fall leaves
a flock of orange parrots perched on branches.
Over the chandelier of sunlight broken
on blue waves, over flowers
shaped like teacups or trumpets,
over the jade garden where once I dreamed
I wore a green velvet dress
clasped tight at the waist
like the grip of a man’s hand.
I walk toward it like a Zombie,
this strange planet suspended in time,
a space station in the rainforest
inhabited by teenage girls wearing glitter eyeshadow
and slippery lipgloss. I skate
along its arid walkways
as if on an invisible track, away
from my life. Here it could be day or night,
the walls stripped of clocks,
music moaning a mindless refrain,
not a window in sight.
The stores hold their mouths open
like seductresses, radiating heat and light
and a bright array of wares,
a sorbet rainbow of merchandise
delectable as pastilles.
Outside, the lives of grasses
and insects and breezes go on.
After a day at the mall,
stepping back into what’s left of the world,
the sunlight will sear your skin,
and the gallons of fresh air
will pour over you like pain.
by Evelyn Lau