The Passenger


Light catches in the tails of snow foxes
that chase each other down the road.
I walk against the wind believing
help may be under the yardlight
of the farm I saw in passing
just before I misjudged the curve.


I arrive and find a party going on.
I warm my back by the fire and return
the indifferent smiles of guests
well advanced in drink, hors d'oeuvres and gossip.
Hot apple cider, they offer.
Good for what ails you, bottoms up.


Marzipan titbits, little human ears,
noses, hands and feet. How long
since you've eaten? How far
have I travelled dreaming I'd find you
standing in a room like this
in front of a full-length mirror?


Here, sign the guest book.
I'm documenting the occasion. Already
my folder of clippings is bulging.
I have snaps of the desktop
where this is happening.
I call it poesie verité.


Down a dim corridor
like others in this mansion
I follow a big red setter
I met begging scraps from the table.
I've thrown him a finger, a bitter
big toe. Ask him where we're going.


Have you ever hiked in the desert?
It's nothing like here
where the forest is so like a house,
even now in uncurtained November.
Our true shape, I believe, is a sphere
or pandimensional ellipse.


Back at the party, the shovelmouths
haven't even slowed down. Early arrivers
carry their stomachs in shopping carts.
Singing waiters dispense their folk
philosophy: Shrimp or salmon,
your choice is absolutely free.


She's alive, she's real, you won't
believe your eyes, they sing.
But I know they couldn't mean you
who once found me by the road
trying to dance feeling
back into my frozen feet.


I woke on the floor, staring up.
My bruises cried out for sleep.
I remembered failures, misunderstandings
gaffes, missed chances, empty triumphs.
Not him, I heard behind me. He's not the one
I want to find in the mirror.


Breaking surface I gasp and feel
solid ground under my feet.
I lunge ashore and lie watching flames
of wreckage reflected on water.
Where is she? Where? I cry. But searchers
find no sign of a passenger.

- Colin Morton