The New Historicism
A little nostalgia is a dangerous thing.
Legwarmers, corsets, monocles,
arranged in panoramic trays.
Your face, so beautiful under all that blush,
is an underwater pun, courtesy
of Busby Berkeley, consequence
of time spent swilling midday martinis.
Napoleon, whiling away the hours on
St. Elba, drew miniature fortresses,
built perfect water works, bathtub
battleships. Anachronisms may be permitted:
what we’re after is less plagiarism
than pilfer, a careful spyglass trained
on microfiche and paperback--
even the occasional empire, gently rustling
in the back of the theatre with legs
like Fred Astaire. Of course, I exaggerate.
I’m still here washing dishes, waiting
tables, rolling out the crimson carpet
when you heel-toe it into the room.
I can’t say I didn’t try. I built that bridge
over the River Kwai one too many times--
you learned to live in the moment,
and eventually so will I.
The rose-skinned koi nosed the pond’s
brick shore. A stippling of rain anticipated
the breaking that would come that evening,
when in a momentary collision, your bravado’s
stumble cast a net of ceramic shards
across the floor. We slit our knees with
miniscule grids of tic-tac-toe. We watched
each other’s animi for interpellation’s signs.
That might have been a sign. After dinner,
you disappeared among the stacks of books,
and left me sinking through the dishes.
Piney soap. Water’s abstract on the glass.
I lugged our leavings to the compost
and noticed your napkin, deftly folded
into a carp. Later, you slipped between
the covers, dusty, smelling of paper.
You were mine. Outside, origami fish
melted in the rain.
MICHAEL PRIOR lives in Toronto, where he attends the University of Toronto's MA in Creative Writing program. His poems have previously appeared, or are forthcoming in The Antigonish Review, Branch Magazine, Carousel, CV2, Freefall, Grain, and Qwerty. A finalist for The Malahat Review's 2013 Long Poem Prize, he was also long-listed for the CBC's 2013 Canada Writes Poetry Prize.
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Issue 3 Playlist