Give me the common or the rare, as they roll
We are mistaken in what we survive,
in what we must eliminate.
The ladies at the plate glass persist,
reviving their brutal martyrdoms,
worn thin by the abuse of soap,
the contour of teacups in unison
against smallpox, cosmetic agriculture,
and wartime rape. And a woman
they believe unrecognizable
She is given to volatility around faith.
Faith in where the unlivable gathers
like wild yeast's affinity for chance
where sexual impatience bursts from the sudden rise
like malady. And it is knee-deep
in mustard, in scattered hybrids
of deliberate imperfection.
Slice through against chronicle. Slip your thumb
under the seam where the signal tugs
where you grasp it,
is not what you don't want
than an uncontaminated vat remains sterile,
Be treated better,
Or promoted across palate.
Be perverse in your indifference to recommend
a local history. Keep the virus for study,
keep this loss of mime. I know
my arts are often mistaken
in their assemblies, their lambic filiations
among grain and tool. But
it is such hands
as mutate all along the breed,
And travelling against,
From Ballast by Karen Houle. Copyright © 2000 by Karen Houle. Reprinted by permission of House of Anansi Press. All rights reserved.