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Salmon Poetry

Shoes by the Door

John Kavanagh

for Rose Carlson

As the sap rose, maples fattened,
and fruit rounded in his orchards,
their love leafed and greened
and she moved in.

That russet headed beauty urged him
to greater lengths as the racing season called,
powered on by what she’d brought
– poetry, theatre talk, the old guitar
re-strung and humming in the corner.

She relished his sweat glistened returns
the grey streaked, trail dusted,
inverted pyramid seeping front and back;
the deep, ineffable scent of him vapouring the room

and he didn’t mind the small unexpected things,
garments draped over chair and bannister,
her endless showers and the drain’s regular
clog from her rinsed sheddings.

But as the summer thinned and miles grew,
and the maples pillowed into rusted orange,
his running shoes offended, 
not in themselves but in the insisting 
they be kept inside.

For every stomp of pounded mile
distilled sweat broiled juices
into wall and tongue,
rising in a nostril lancing tang 
once they came inside.

Each time he left, she put them neatly out
but when he returned he took them in, 
as if rescuing a pet left out in the rain.   

Something in these cooled insistences 
depleted her and one day 
she told him that if they came inside again,
she would go out instead 
and never come back. 

They calmly parted for Thanksgiving,
the air firmly cleared.
When she returned they were not
where she had left them, 

but where they always were
tilted toe down against the wall.
She packed up everything she had
and pulled the door.
He came home to everything as he had left it

but once inside, something in the fermenting silence,
in the startled opening of new spaces
told him that everything about her had gone, 
except for a silk, plum skinned bra
left dangling unaccountably on a bedpost.

Copyright © John Kavanagh 2013

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