The Ruined Cottage (Toronto: Wolsak and Wynn, 1993): 52. PS 8576 .074 R8 Robarts Library
1Stiff, thick: the white hair of the broad-faced father,
2who leads his shambling son along
3cracked sidewalks, by dusty glass half hiding
4goods never sold. The son is the taller one
5but still a child: not aware of his clothes,
6of what expressions seize on his soft face.
7His gait lolls, loosely directed from some weak,
8distant center, scarcely devoted to any purpose
9but following along and looking. Thick lenses glint
10with watery blue: his small eyes, veiled
11and placid, as far off as the milky August sky.
12The father, all the time glancing at him and talking
13as man to man, seems to forget it would be better
14for this one to have been like all the rest.
15He has his son still with him, the others
16have grown up and gone away -- but when he dies,
17then what will happen to the boy? Even this thought
18is absorbed now in their ordinary errand,
19men's business: grateful going out through the day,
20talk with the owners, the salesmen, a mechanic
21in the scent of grease and sawdust of machined metal,
22the sifting through tools and parts that flow, spill, gleam
23like seeds, like sand -- looking for what fits,
24finding what will work. Afterwards to stop for food,
25then walk back home down the clear streets, when starlings,
26hunting and restless before sleep, and children
27are the loudest things, with the dark foaming
28among maples, glinting, as it comes in.
RPO poem Editors
<b>This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Albert Frank Moritz or the Wolsak and Wynn permissions department.</b>