The Nick Adams Stories

every time he reads those stories
she comes back to him through radios playing
in books one once spoke in tongues to the other
& now he hates the dull heat nostalgia generates
browning the brilliant reds & blues he recalls
the edges of green they once lept across
tempting falls

when he glances down at colours on a palette
or at clay tossed on a wheel
to be molded into a mask he'll wear
she comes back to him
comes to him in the final credits
rolling at the close of every film he views
alone in the theatre by then
except for relatives of the second assistant director
the key grip or best boy

"he was through thinking about her"
until someone walks by with her exact centre of gravity
looped low around her hips
or during the orange end of the day
an Indian summer dusk
carrying the smoke of slash fires burning
set deliberately to clear debris from forest camps
& then again early each morning
when the acrid smell of ash hangs limp in fog
some forecaster claims will burn away before noon

how he could predict the future significance of scent
the seasonal smell of her
& how he could know she would be there
in the clean cut of a razor through lather
in hot baths he'll lie down in eyes closed
with every woman he'll sleep beside
startled the next morning
when the warmth he reaches isn't for her

"nothing belonged to him or wuld again"
it will never be through
will always shape sensation
taint the taste of food
the qulaity of light held in the day's air
& in the sliences the many silences
growing deeper with the dark & the cold
when he most needs solitude and grace
all those straying hours he'll crave sleep
& need more & more to be rid of her

& once so unexpectedly
an invasion impossible to guard against
in the words of her favourite nursery rhyme
that come to him with music
as he descends simply descends from a bus
into sudden bursts of yellow
(the color of schizophrenia - serial killers
& Van Gogh's excessive use of it)
words that come to him when he turns a corner
as he turns his head to shield his eyes
to flee the child's voice
receding into the otherwise empty October air
but echoing in some bloodless chamber of his heart
where he stores their music their laughter & their dance

Brian Burke