by Christopher Good
Marlboro tar curls through a sluggish mist
heavy-white over the docks,
the low ten-o’clock sun muted,
atmosphere sullen, pregnant with autumn.
They stand in a vast silence,
dragging long and slow, savouring the small warmth
in each breath. Against each woman’s face
a fog fifteen minutes cannot break:
What is this November damp,
this penetrating chill
stiff in the knees and wrists?
Another world might hold a home,
a thought small and inviting: an attic apartment,
with a musty grey in the carpet
and on the walls, and small-paned windows.
A stuffy little kitchen, and plastic plates
bearing traces of last night’s comfort.
A double bed, low to the floor.
Another world might meet the man
who could mean it, who could rule it: short, slight,
fire-haired and freckled, built of
wiry sinews and sharp straight bones.
Or a smaller joy-spark,
blue eyes sparkling beneath an old Dodge cap.
A placid cat sleeping easy.
Other worlds don’t work for long.
Too soon they’ll need another light—
this fall air is thick.
Might another life hold a rest
longer than a quarter of an hour apiece?
A duty greater than the sixteen dollars
wrung out of every cycle of the clock?
But silence is too great, distance too vast.
Grey leaks from the saturated sky.
The last drags—the bitter ends—
Now the bell tolls.
Back to the dust, the sweat.
What is the ache in this November damp?
Christopher Good is a deeply opinionated Canadian Christian socialist thinker and craftsman; he enjoys church sociology, literature, languages, music, and building hospitality furniture.
Photography by Kenneth Godoy