[from Troy Jollimore's Tom Thomson in Purgatory, 2006]
The feelings you thought were genuine
were purchased at a discount
from a supplier
in a city with a name something like
A city where there are more cafés
than people, and residents gather
under the eaves of the bridge which connects them
with their sister city
in New jersey.
In these small gropus they confess their sins,
passing cigarettes in circles.
My supplier was a kind man
who kept a large family
and whose irrational attraction
to large sea mammals
would lead to his untimely demise.
I am telling you this
so you will know what it is
that wakes me at four every morning,
more than drugs, or sleep, or peace.
The roses that grow in that stony ground
send their roots straight up, and their blossoms down.
Their sun-seeking roots anchor them in the air,
but they find neither water nor nourishment there.
Their leaves stretch toward the planet's hot core.
But the earth's inner engine radiates more
heat than it does light, so that, to their surprise,
they find that they cannot photosynthesize.
They are white as milk. Up among the stones,
the pale roots linger like the half-buried bones
of abandoned camels licked clean by the sands.
Yet the underground flowers that open like hands
are brazen and bright. They unfurl like flags.
Among the miniature caverns and crags
just beneath the surface, these banners gather,
sheltered from sun, from stars, from weather —
sheltered, too, from admirers; hidden from any
appreciative eye. And there are so many!
They are thoughts we attempted to utter, but failed.
Or confessions of love: folded, stamped, never mailed.
Tom Thomson In Purgatory