The Art of …

… 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.

The Mall

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



  1. voyager says

    @Ice Swimmer
    I think that time spent outdoors is time well spent. Thanks for letting me know.

  2. dakotagreasemonkey says

    I’ve enjoyed this poem. At first, I just read it, silently, and let it go.
    Then, I came back to it and decided to read it out loud to myself.
    I discovered that once voice was put to the written word, it came alive, and was much more captivating that way. Surprised myself!
    So, to explore this, and try to share it, in voice, I captured a reading on an audio app. I can’t find a way to attach, or send this audio file to share with the blog.
    I’ll try the submissions link to see if you can add my voice reading to this post.
    I had fun doing it, and opened an avenue to a talent I didn’t know I had. We’ll see.
    Most people will probably laugh at me, but I don’t care. I’m only 68, and haven’t grown up yet!

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