Self-conscious Chivalry

Two Parking Lots
 
This is The Clue of the Snake in the Hollow Book.
Middle aged men walk Larissa to her car. She is calmer.
She likes to hear us talk about farming and carpentry.
 
Her first love is ruined for her by beatings.
Glenn and I were her guards in spring and summer
Before and after work through P&G factory parking.
What does this mean now: Larissa?
A thrill: young, smart, loving, flushed and excited;
The exhaustion of giving more than you have.
 
It meant beauty and living with a beautiful boy:
She loved his fierce flatness and fiery boredom.
 
Night classes at McMaster University
She asks another student to walk her to her car.
She says, “Before this happened I was headed for medical school.”
 
 
                                  Paul Anthony Hutchinson
 

I Came To Know One of the Schoolyard Mockers


I came to know one of the schoolyard mockers

The most important good thing is enchantment.

There are also spells and curses. You said things girls remember.
You said, “One round and one pointed breast.” Curses

Are a child’s skill, and
​What you said then still shouts at a woman I know
In parking lots and smashes bottles,
Bellows on her phone and waits mumbling in a car outside her work.
As a boy you sometimes liked that feeling. I hated you.

You say now you begged yourself to stop blurting.

Late spring, after two years of university:
We drink Scotch by an oil drum of burning sawdust and pallet scraps.
We’re cold unloading boxcars in your grandfather’s lumberyard: orange flames, wet denim, campfire-coloured plywood in the rain,
Slippery planks, cedar and pitch on our clothes,
Creosote on our hands. Your remorse is the door to the world.

You were happy unloading lumber.
Ham and mustard sandwiches, apples and whisky in the yard,
Splashing your face and combing your hair at the tap,
Wadding your pay, kissing the money,
You were eager…
… And so am I, remembering the joy with which you began to become
One of the willing,

As I am one of the willing horses.

Paul Anthony Hutchinson