Canadian Poetry Online top banner link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page

Elegy

Rosemary Sullivan
From:   Blue Panic. Black Moss Press, 1991, p 12-13


A man, thirty-three, in an olive-green coat,
singing: "Looking for My Shanghi Lil" with a smile
sitting on the edge of his face,
barely—
That's how I remember you
across a café in Paris
watching the door.
Not young. Easy to open.
Valises comparing our wares.

In the safe space under the city's rafters
you'd cleared and hung with fragile
wooden birds gathered in Finland,
we drank good wine and thought
of ourselves as survivors.
You tended me like a wound
feeding me oeufs anglais and expresso
before disappearing into the underground
with the rest of the morning.
At night your mouth pushed hungrily into mine,
the kind of hurt I loved then,
an echo in a man.

In her note she'd left kisses all over your body.
She was dying slowly in another country,
the disease that turns the body
too sweet to hold.
Strange that you could neither go nor stay.
Easier to die your own death
than live another's.
In the sweat of August in that small room
you drew an over the door
and left your name behind you.

There is another letter,
long past sending, to say
people can open briefly
like the circle you clear on a winter window
with warm breath.

You feel a loss
incommensurate with your own wanting,
for the way lives have of eluding each other
and going missing.


Rosemary Sullivan's works copyright © to the author.


Canadian Poetry Online bottom banner link to University of Toronto Libraries home page link to Digital Collections home page link to University of Toronto Library catalogue link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page