Gloating Over Mildred
St. Catharines light in the afternoon: lead oxide, pink white, dry mud shadows.
They lay on her living room carpet and Anthony gloated over Mildred,
Her cotton nightgown, her long back, and round shoulders: proof at last.
“So this is gloating. It is better to gloat than to doubt. It took me a long time.”
Her clean faded quilt brought from the balcony rail: it
Smells of clean laundry and cold air and the thrill of their power.
He’s proud to be the lover of a heroine,
And happy that he can see her this way.
Picnic kisses tasting of smoked oysters and beer.
There were never friendly kisses of love before?
“Mildred, I love hearing how you defied the adults.”
He told Hansel and Gretel to her child, who had strep throat,
And told it again, knowing it would work,
Seeing the bookshelves, seeing her notebooks,
Knowing that he would have his life after all:
The mispronounced words of a solitary reader,
The red skirt on the chair, the gold necklace of coins.
Paul Anthony Hutchinson