Thursday, May 19, 2011

Poem of the Month - Gagetown Reflexes

Once a month, I'll share one of my own poems.

First up is "Gagetown Reflexes," one of my personal favourites. I was inspired by actual events, a moment that stuck in my head until I had no choice but to put it into words, first as rough prose in a fiction writing class and finally in more polished form in poetry class.

Gagetown Reflexes
by Betty Dobson

The tiny flame flickers and fights to keep burning, but slowly
dies. A red ember remains on the wick, glowing, then goes out.
She has no fear of the night—her bunker of silence and peace.
The odd car whispers by as rain taps on the window, lonely, excluded.
Black softens to grays, shifting as if alive. She watches from bed,
rapt by the shapes that form and vanish with each breath she takes.

The old radiator breaks through the silence—a harsh rhythm.
Three hard beats, a brief lull. Four beats and another
teasing pause. The shadows remain, circling like cautious invaders.
The wool blanket betrays its warmth, stinging her to

movement. Fresh from manoeuvres, he pins her with slumbering ease.
She stares down at his dark limb, so solid against her own skin.
The gap between them widens as she counts off each year in her mind.
He snorts, rolls onto his back. A streetlight eclipses his profile.
Free of his touch, she retreats to the hazy comfort of nicotine.
Deep breaths, measured and slow. She closes her
eyes to the shadows, finding a clearer form of darkness.

Time slips back by hours. Once more his fingers dance the
thin wires. His whisper coaxes beauty from a motorcycle ballad.
Tiny flickers fill the air, like shards of Cupid’s updated arsenal.
The radiator beats a fresh refrain, startled fingers drop the
smouldering butt. Catch it up before the fire; hold the ember
until it fades. Paper and ash, afloat in last night’s beer.
She steps tenderly through the glowing dark, back to the edge.
Rain so steady it coats the glass; soft light shears the veil.
The scent of him rises like spice. She leans close to taste his ear.
Reaction is instant—an aerial turn propelled by instinct. She feels
his wide, fearful stare but can’t see past his upraised shaking fist.

"Gagetown Reflexes" is included in my poetry collection, Paper Wings., currently available on

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