WEBSITE OF CLARKE EMERVANE

THE STRANGER

from A Dearth of Prose


The boulevard was haggard;
the boulevard was proud;
and on the street called Baker
was begging not allowed.

And both the haggard children
on doorstep 93
were in the care of one alone
hardworking chickadee.

Last Tuesday when the bitter
December drained its vial
into the mallee children,
she rested for a while.

Then was the icebox empty,
and were the cupboards bare:
she went to plead the grocer;
'foreclosure' plastered there.

And now the chicks were panting
and crying out with glee,
"it has been full two Sundays
since we have had our tea!"

The mother bird delighted
her children with a smile:
"I'm going to the market,
'twill be but a short while,"

so left the peeping children;
she was, they were alone,
and she had nothing to exchange
but their family home.

Outside, there was a tall man
in fully black attire
whose overcoat was chasing
down a discarded tyre.

The wind blew, and he studied
her disenchanted frame;
he followed her in footsteps
that printed out her name.

She passed him, and ran softly
to downtown Market Claire;
she stopped within the cabbage:
and he was standing there;

she ran and found the butcher
with half a leg of ham,
and begged for his attention.
He turned: it was the man.

The pharmacy outnumbered
its guests with remedy;
a single vase reflection
she saw: and it was he.

He sought her down the mean streets.
He sought her down the aisles
of half-week rotten cabbages
and half-baked market smiles.

He sought her past the butcher
into a China store
where scented leaves and ginger
tea filled an aisle four.

He chased her in the raindrops,
the woman without sleep,
and chased her back in memory
to Tuesday of last week.

He sought her down Street Baker,
there where her kids alone
were feasting on the thought of bread
and of their mother home.

He chased her to the doorstep,
and - quick! she shut the door.
And then she waited 'til he left
from three to almost four.

She came, and saw the doorstep:
she blessed him with her eyes:
six bags of bacon, medicine,
and grocery supplies.






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