Friday, December 9, 2016

Jack Scott writes


One of those odd buildings
appearing larger inside than out
the hospital has two stories on the left,
three on the right
above the original structure,
taking about a third of its width.
Alice is in one of the higher rooms
facing east toward the Bay and beyond,
a vista permanently etched,
tattooed upon her blood,
ancient and immediate,
a stark reality that,
from her narrower balcony,
also became a beckoning cliff
at once drawing her pensively too near,
then driving her reflexively into retreat
from imagined floor of lobster land -
sea bottom black.

Turning, facing her room:
a door,
a single bed,
a rack to hang a few things on,
a dresser with a looking glass looking out,
its drawers discretely closed,
a tray with wheels, upon it:
jars adorned with fleur de lis,
a pitcher and a stoneware bowl,
mismatched wash cloth and towel,
a plate with egg upon its face,
an empty coffee cup,
a glass with milk upon its lip,
a vase to put some flowers in,
no rug upon the floor, sandpaper clean,
the only window, at her back,
through which could shine the morning sun,
beneath the bed a relic chamber pot,
(her bathroom’s just around the corner.)
alarm clock to awaken her,
but she’s been awake.

She knows she’s had a child
(how could she not?)
and some of why and how;
she’s not a medieval maiden.
She has not seen it
but knows it’s there
She has of course not heard it.

She packs everything she brought with her,
prematurely, from the dresser and the rack,
then stiffly rests,
not supposed to use her feet just yet,
but restless, rises,
confronts the mirror
explores it and herself:
no flowers in the room,
a card, no, two,
one letter and a telegram,
under the bed the other shoe
beside the antique chamber pot,
redundantly competing with a bed pan
and adjacent bathroom.
All is as it should be
according to the plan.

What’s missing is her baby.
She cries at that from time to time,
it tugs at her.
A fertile woman without strings
and wanting none, we think,
though she tied a knot or two.

Put first stone in the scale,
you who weigh her here:
round and often jolly,
short and at times puckish,
a loose woman so-called back then
with a fun loving reputation,
a free spirit as seen by some,
by others, freer than she should have been,
wanting all that she could get,
not knowing how to pay for it,
she took it as it came.
Smart and impish,
a sometimes silly prankster,
occasionally a vagabond,
sometimes with a man.
In short, a character
in the good sense of the word,
animated, mischievous -
and sad for what she didn’t know
that she was missing.

To whom could she confide,
with whom seek counsel?
You’d best know who writes
when you open book to read.
One size does not fit all
of anything;
it takes knowledge
to know just where to look
and recognize what’s found.
She did well with what she had,
beneath our notice,
shame on us, 
all that weight
with so little light
shone on it.

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