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IV The Ivory Steeple

James Reaney


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The Orphanage

We are orphans
And gleam
In our yellow dresses
(The yellow of a twenty-watt light-bulb)
Like a piece of coloured fan-light.
They lit this dingy flame
(These yellow dresses)
They that lie pasted together
In ditches by the railroad tracks
And seethe in round-shouldered cars
With the lusty belches of a Canadian spring.
Young men with permanent waves
Crawl over ghastly women
Whose cheeks are fat as buttocks.
Young men who play hockey
On frozen milk
And ride motorcycles
(Their horses drink the green bood of ancient ferns)
Come out to abandoned orchards
With girls
Who have not read Baudelair
Or anything.

Miss Mumblecrust
Wears earrings
Like scimitars
Swinging at her ears
Swishing and cutting
Imaginary grass.
She loves
And her mouth waters
For the hard caramel bellies
Of young men
Who play hockey in winter.
The parts in their hair
Are like pink worms
That crawl towards us.

At night
They say
Men and women
Fit together
Among the elderly trees.
It is they who kindle
The yellow of our dresses.
We are the answers
To those equations
In ditches and round-shouldered cars.
And gray windows
Bob with plain white
And cretinous faces.