The Rusty Toque | Issue 11 | Poetry | November 30, 2016
Painting of a Photograph
One building didn’t swallow the other
but grew up inside it, shouldering into the courtyard
like a child learning to operate the man’s hands
that have suddenly appeared at the end of his arms.
In the motel’s embrace there were doors, windows, passageways –
without the need for breathing room
for these are modern times.
When it came down you could still see the marks
like my brother’s dirty handprint when he jumped
and touched the ceiling overhead
too high for my mother to reach.
Clean edges where the doors have been.
Dirtier bricks. A windowsill clinging on, improbably,
like a mollusk.
At first you think you’re looking at an interior, a ruined home laid bare.
But at the top of the canvas, a sprinkling of snow in white paint.
Then the chill comes over you.
For punishment her father made her wear
a sweatshirt, nothing underneath.
This was California, so you can imagine.
All day she grew warmer and warmer
but couldn’t take it off,
her round face sweating.
She told me once she’d had a vision of angels –
or not a vision, she had seen them, wide awake,
in the laundry room down the hall.
Treacherous child, I asked her mother
if it were true. They were very religious.
So was my family, but a different kind, without visions.
The mother said yes, it was true.
There were angels, standing by a pile of unwashed clothes,
slowing burning from the inside out.
LAURA COK lives in Toronto, where she works in the book industry. She has been previously published in Arc, CV2, Existere, and Prairie Fire.