THE WARLOCK'S FORELOCK
The rain reminds me how I fell
in love with steel drums as a girl
in Detroit’s Hart Plaza, wanted to hear
that patterned ting-ping-ping all day
while brushing my teeth, while reading
my horoscope in the Free Press,
while unpacking a packed lunch.
My son’s father pours me a glass
of terrible wine. We joke it has notes
of strawberry, rhubarb, and lake trout.
I watched a decades-old documentary
in which the author’s father handled
hemlock on an island outside Ottawa.
My father tells me I’m his greatest
regret. He means not knowing me, one
hopes. It reminds me of a dumb song.
My son is asleep after drinking from me
too soon after I consumed that bad booze.
When I was 22 I drank a bottle of rosé
and zonked out under a tree beside
the intended tent. I was in a campground
in Menton. France. That’s all I remember.
Also: the English girls I travelled with didn’t
much love museums. Did I see Jean Cocteau’s
chateau? Maybe. My son thinks I’m perfect
when I do nothing but lie silently in a room
feeding him while I try not to dwell on
my mother’s bills so that worry won’t
pass from my nervous system into his. One
time I drank a rancid mud-thick brew
that made me see snakes in the floor tile.
I thought I was the Virgin Mary, radiant
and swaddled in borrowed white skirts
issued to shield my ovarian vibrations.
We stood up and sat down as we sang
allegedly magical phrases in Portuguese.
One guy saw light shoot out of my head.
Tonight, I tune the rain. Our least-favourite
cat trapped in the worst of it. I felt
love as we rescued him from his tiny
terror. Once he was safe I lost interest.
I cried this afternoon. It’s my new thing.
By Damian Rogers, from Dear Leader (Coach House, 2015)
(Illustration by Sean Lewis)