The Ponies In Snow Park


Under flapping green and white awnings
On a wide Toronto street I feel your gloved hand on my tweed coat.
You are cold. We run. It is one o’clock, winter afternoon.
Waiting for the car to warm up we touch mouths and tongues.

This is what I always wanted. We are young. We are wearing
Our favourite clothes. The green and orange plastic pennons
Of the service station slap in the wind. The ponies stand
Far away, at the edge of the woods in Snow Park.

Some bear their share of the burden of the meaning of life
More easily than others. I know that
When you are alone you must build walls
And figure ways to smash them down.

I know how some mouths opened over you
Like Borgia rings over a wineglass, and how, therefore, it was
Hard for you to abandon the problem many of us loved:
How can I avoid doing harm; how can I avoid harm?

Out of the changes in human emotion,
Out of the changes in faces and lives,
You took the power to do with me what once
You might have done for sadness, or for love, alone.

Our shape refuses depression.
I point at birds. There is music on the radio.
I grin and hug. A few silver minutes now
Of ponies, music, dull orange breast feathers.

Paul Anthony Hutchinson
Copyright Paul Anthony Hutchinson

This poem was published in WAVES


Before spring, near Grimsby, ditches run clean like trout streams,
Our vines are gray. They will be pink next, like flushed, excited skin.
In March there is the flatness that is a big part of trouble.
Anthony’s sisters are helping him scrub his apartment.

He was sick all winter. They raise his laughter like neighbours raise a burned out barn.
He had made a good start. The therapy.
He says now, “I wasn’t so much sick as sad all the time.”
The pills ended the depression. You can wish that life was never mechanical.

Smell of hot vinegar in the coffee-maker, smells of pine oil and beer.
Brock University jackets, damp curly hair, his sisters
Wiping their hands on sweatshirts, the open window,
His bedroom. Anthony clears books from the sills and cleans and shines the windows.
There are wicker baskets for their picnic and for his laundry.

I always wanted to know, what is consecration?
(Here is a scrap of his poetry:
“… panties the colour of a driftwood campfire.”)
His sisters laugh to think of a girl in the apartment.
The dirty clothes are gone. He’s got clean denims and hiking boots.

Laughter, beer and young music,
Bread and stew and pickles and heavy brown two liter bottles of beer
On the white wooden kitchen table where he hopes to write.
His father’s pickup truck is in the yard, its bed full of garbage.

With cleaning any good thing can happen. The sisters feel it too.
I didn’t know what consecration meant. They joked
That he could have a girl up there when they were done.

Paul Anthony Hutchinson


June 2013 revision


Hamilton harbour:
Blue paint in the sun on gulls’ filth
And on their singing.
Brown foam, mustard foam, cobalt. Onionskin pink,
Ludovic slept on this beach.
After his mother stabbed him,
Potatoes and salt, bonfires,
Living in a tent.

Like real charity
He was dangerous and exciting.

The neighbour’s brave girl stole food
From home. They were fifteen.

You are thoughtful. You can see fossils
Of beatings and name-calling,

Of being saved by a girl
Embedded in his good manners and jokes
And respectful speech.

Paul Anthony Hutchinson
An earlier version of this poem was published in Hammered Out