When I Learnt About Love.; Rubber Gloves; The Monarchy
When I Learnt About Love.
Sunday, my son and I, cut the hedge.
Just as my father once showed me how
in those afternoons of silence,
speechless summer days
when I helped him in the yard.
At one time he would cut by hand
the sharpened shears twisted, ripped,
his hands grew yeasty with blisters.
Later, older, he used electric shears
took concise, propellered, side swipes
as I held the wire out behind him,
as his page boy, communication line
back into the world,
my only job to keep the wire taut,
him safe from himself.
Grandad lay dying in the country hospital.
Around us useless nurses ferried tea, inedible cookies.
The drawn blade of a winter wind
flashed itself at the window, was kept outside
as he pleaded to be let go;
“let me die” he cried “just let me die”
Not knowing how to do their part, what that was
how to console
my children took the hospital gloves,
the packet from the bedside cabinet
inflated the skin thin, bright blue latex,
made them into balloons
No longer hand shape, able to fit us
free from all rational purpose, what they were made for
these ribbed, ridged creatures
with their new bodies
slid themselves away over the bleached-out floors
bobbled silently towards the exit.
It was is mid June, an early heatwave
under a vast open alter of cloudless sky.
My friend Ken and I
drag ourselves home from elementary school.
The streets empty, people indoors, sheltered
making themselves invisible
Parked cars tick, uncurl, soften in deep sun.
By the junkyard, on the sidewalk, twenty Marlboro.
My friend, who has older brothers, is keenest
as he was when we found that porn magazine
with those women with mummy sized breasts
draped inexplicably over fashionable furniture
in unfeasibly clean, uncluttered, houses.
We know that to deliver this stuff to the older ones,
for a while, will give us credibility, status.
In the bushes we try our first cigarette.
We share one
pass it around, choke, splutter, know we are alive.
We are in a rush to leave ourselves behind.
I attempt not to vomit, look up into the sky
feel my stomach rising:
I watch a solitary black jet, soundless, too
high to have features
move itself swiftly over the horizon
going somewhere where there are no children,
Alan Hill is the Poet Laureate of the City of New Westminster BC Canada. He came to live in North America after meeting his Vietnamese Canadian wife whilst living and working in Botswana.