Illumination of it came from London,
in a room I didn’t understand,
boy–sized, but bigger than a coffin.
The wallpaper had roan stallions
flanked by cowboys and Indians,
all grounded on a big blue sky.
I lay on the bed like a shovel,
either hand in spitting distance
of a pint of White Horse and a puck of Skoal,
part of the cartoon; but the cloud
drawn over me shed the jobless moans
of a Belfast couple and the stale taunt
of a bloke at Bentham’s godless college:
“You’re oversexed and over here.”
No authentic World War II souvenir,
I liked the way he called me, blonde
and self-conscious, “swarthy and rude.”
It was the Day of the Dead when I moved,
All Souls’; Plantagenet roses hung
heavy as grapefruits by the stoop.
I could hear hymns from the church, sung
to my longing and my pity and my hurt.
So I went back on these, an ocean
and a prairie of highways yet from home,
by what seemed to me then the only way.
I went to my corner in far Colorado
and wrote up the terms of my stay.