Afternoon and Evening

Afternoon dreams do not fit the usual analysis:
you lie down with your feet up
when sleep comes to the ottoman   Or not quite sleep
The sunlight seeps in and dilutes the greater colours
The woman who has been married three times
dreams she has no name; the man who lives for Sunday
dreams he is three men   The child might dream one colour
that isn’t in the rainbow—and which we yearn for—
but when he wakes, his head is for play and arrangement
I wake up worried I have slipped
a deadline, the orange-flowered cover pawing me awake
I leap to the window, looking for time, and see crows
already gathered in the far woods
raking their hearts together in a pile for the sunset


She’s taking seventeen pills a day   At least one of them
is making her voice waver as if she’s deaf so
when I listen on the phone and she talks to me
from half a continent away, it’s underwater talk
My youngest on the line   As for me I’m focusing on the hallway
the door at the end, the smell of the pay-phone in my hand
all the troubles poured into its mouth &mbsp;Later
propped on the bed, I might shout what rushes us
More likely I’ll drift, get under the covers
and doze, perhaps the dream will come
to open the lines in one great jag of light
back to what’s been—to where—the doors blown open
cats from childhood hunched up and hissing, wind
where the fires used to be

Questions and Answers

About “Afternoon and Evening”:

When asked about my writing, I am sometimes reminded of this comment by Michael Ondatjee’s in Transitions III: Poetry (CommCept Publishing, 1978): “What I believed or felt when I wrote these poems is obviously not what I believe or feel now. One little nuance, one little image, and everything changes.”

This poem “Afternoon and Evening” originally appeared in Poets’ Words. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 115 (Winter 1987): 124.

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