The Rusty Toque | Issue 4 | Poetry | February 15, 2013
THE DISINTEGRATION, AS CHILDREN
You would have thought,
what a gorgeous kid. You’d
have thought, what a sweetheart.
Gifted, gifted, they all said it.
I had an eye for colour, though now
I don’t care. I let things be
what they are. What the hell
are we talking about? Oh,
my tragedies. Well, the big drama
was the children’s train
but I was only two, so I hardly
knew the score. We made it just
under the wire. I guess
you could call us lucky. Grandma
and the rest of them gassed,
gone. Is that
how you like your luck?
I was loved, at least,
by my father. It was
a bit intense. My mother
was a manic stunner, depressive
eyeful. She was here and far.
I had a kick in me
like a chorus line.
I cried in terror every night, clutched
the bed rail. And that
before the coronary
to crown them all, before
my mother tipped
off the roof.
Before the tumours
came to roost. Tell me
it’s a surprise
I have little faith in beauty.
THE DISINTEGRATION, AS WRAITH
You chalk me up ethereal. I didn’t ask
for this story.
_________Those brittle vessels
I collected? They’re mourning, sure,
anyone can see it. They nod to one another, bow
ever so slightly at the waist; turned
face, bent ear.
_________Give ‘em a minute.
All befuddled dignity
at a singles’ event. They’re a bit
old for this sort of thing.
did you catch that? Those two,
out and out flirting! She thrusts
her hip, he leans in. They murmur:
what about the ropes?
__ what about the wires?
What about the mounds of balls?
No more clues; I’ve given
everything you need. You guys
would write an obituary
for a wadded-up serviette.
The latex weeps
on the gallery floor.
my stuff all wrong
in last-ditch efforts.
You quibble: another tragedy
versus an apt eventuality. Either way,
it was the only outcome. The sheets,
they’re out of my hands.
If I gave the world a hiccup,
good for me. At this point
I take what I can get.
Without my tools
or materials, I’ve learned to kill
time. When I’m sick
of Departures, I haunt Arrivals.
I still know what I’m doing.
I’ve compared white paint chips under various lights:
ivories, bones, the whites with pinkish undertones;
off-whites that read white. Snow White.
True White. Whiter than.
evolves long-term plans
to ripen into Cinderella
as I bring her juice,
scrub the tub, go diving for oyster
nail polish in bins,
___________just the shade
________ for half-pint fingers.____My lungs
pool red as she drills
for silver and gold as well__she drills____but I don’t flee
or call for the woodcutter. This
is the job.
_______ I long
for an island
in the kitchen, regularly take
the car to travel three blocks. Under the bus
goes the Walmart boycott--
to baptize the baby
_in the waterfall
__ of a white noise machine.
that wants a dunking. In the darkening
cream of the baby’s room, he looks
like my father’s mother
and my mother-in-law’s brother: elf
to dinner roll
and back again. This one? Flip.
Or that. Mine? Or not.
__ If mine, how much? How long?
we’re doing right by you. Heck,
this town is white. White son,
white daughter, would you believe
we were bohemians? Time
______I nurse every
other hour, rock this salt
die, don’t die._________Morning’s
early. The light, the sheet
covering my head.
_____________Gone the tender
____________dark, but there’s a well
___________of a different colour.
I go to face them.
however they shriek
I can drown them out.
ADRIENNE BARRETT is a writer and bricklayer living in Woodstock, Ontario. “The disintegration” poems, which riff on the life and art of Eva Hesse, belong to a set of poems about various disparate public figures “as children”. They, along with “Crimson”, are taken from The house is still standing, to be released in late April under the Ice House imprint of Goose Lane Editions.