Stephanie Bolsterís recent book is Pavilion (McClelland & Stewart, 2002). She teaches at Concordia University in Montreal.
Ubiquitous in this domain
The pygmy hippo comes with lettuce.
Polar bear with a red ball, everything
with pigeons. The smaller, indoor animal
draws back as though admitting you
to a parlour, walls painted into the distance
of where it might have lived.
Africaís the height of popularity,
strollers dripping ice cream and mustard.
In Paris, Chicago, Barcelona, the paddock
for giraffes is just like this. There are things
of which it can be said that no such things exist.*
The world in a tail, thatís what
we came for. The swirl of oil spilled in a lot
one June night outside the cinema.
Just past sunset, what the day was
flashes up, purpled with what
some wince at as regret.
The call erodes the throat
of the listener. What lack! The tail unfolds
its devastation: many eyes emblazoned
turquoise, emerald, witness
our disregard for each thing other
than their beauty. Our eyes dilate
to the backs of mirrors.
The same grated drain.
Where girls donít look away
and let their mouths drop to gapes
or laughs, a curtain hangs its plastic strips
for the visitor to part. The animal is washed.
Instead of lockers for the towels
the mothers folded, a trough.
The door with its bolt. A daily bar of light
across the backís shellac.
To refresh, a whiff of bleach.
Girls wait for their mothers, wrung suits
damp in their bags, still in the room
in which their mothers still live.
Jardin des Plantes, Winter
Where in the garden
is the garden? Rain
pools in the gravel
of the eminent,
teary with mildew.
No one here.
This is the heart
of old Paris. Once
the outskirts. A labyrinth
and a vertical installation
through which sand does not
move. In spring, a carousel
of poppies will ruin it with joy.