The Understudy

Anne Marie-Fyfe

The doctor works hour after hour
under clock-hands stilled at five.

A painterly suspension of the wrist-joint—
such precision on the block.
                                               Perspiring,
the physician plucks shirtcuffs, sallow
moments under the knife,
                                                glint of the abyss.

The obituarist, far from the scene
of the crux, sharpens Lakeland pencils.

Elevator doors concertina to a standstill.

Upper chambers of the heart hang
by a daybreak. A limp corvine
in the Camellia House cannot find his mate.

Light bleeds into evening, a blunted razor
rests on a porcelain ledge.

The understudy in the wings
applies Leichner No. 5.

Next-of-kin snaps a clean wishbone.
Sirens clamour for last
                                        atonements
in south-side plazas.

Plazas chequered with total strangers
asking for the possibility of a light.

 

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