Michael Belcher has been a Permanent Resident of Montreal since 2009. In 2005, he received an Honours BA in Cultural Studies from McGill University, where he wrote and directed two plays for the McGill Drama Festival, and he completed his MA in English Literature at Concordia University in 2012. That same year, he directed his play Between Night and Day at Mainline Theatre, which was voted a Top 10 Play in Montreal Mirror’s Reader Poll 2012. His poetry has been published in the Headlight Anthology and his book and film reviews in Matrix magazine and the Image+Nation film festival. Michael currently teaches Creative Arts, Media Studies, and English Literature at College LaSalle. In addition to playwriting, his interests extend to all areas of creative writing, and he is currently finishing a novel.
EARLY MORNING BUILDINGS
At 5 in the not-quite-morn I look of road kill
Chopped up, served on my face.
A brontosaurus face; petrified paper bag full of bone.
In the hall, lit at the ends by the suggestion of kitchen and bedroom, shower gasps meet the odor of 3am beer and pinched cigarettes. Bits of plastic cup embellish where a room-kept dog escaped.
A bawl had woken me
My roommate’s sloppy revelry
Or a squabble – a white duck,
I hesitate at the pitch of retching behind his door.
His belated slumber has expired, spilled out in guttural chunks into a bedside Tupperware.
Then I grumble on, shuffle into my low lamp luster, lean sorely
on the bed edge,
stoop for ill-fitting shoes.
Cracking wrists accomplish the childhood task –
one – the other –
and I’m struck by the shimmer of buildings on the floor. They play, like fairies in grass, and I
watch them titter and tease.
In the window, shapes are cut from black cloth, dull, given up to sock-polished wood. Rumpled, bed sheet clouds lay above chimneys, like cloistered cottages, and the last of changed leaves keep their color. Hauled upright, blood seeps to my head, and you seem as a dream of sprites.
Like bathroom breaths,
Escape your frame
Cocooned in the covers.
Your swooning, liquid turn
Pulls the casing, gently, under me,
As it has to early lovers –
I stand, to stamp it out, systematically role calling the day – a textbook with two desultory palm trees; an apple; two pens, black and red – into my backpack, soon up, onto my knotted shoulders. I have been abstracted and slough my baggage, again, on the floor, to don a draped skin, feeling the chill of its preserved rest on my grasping fingers, formed to my shoulders, wedded to my back, buttoned – semestrial to my chin. Then the bag returns, a laggard furnace for my core.
Because of words spoken,
My mother, full of grace,
Annexed me to mini-golf
During our summer at the lake,
To exhaust the tears
And dilute the collision
Of my father returning.
The moon is still buried upside down, the sun’s belly not yet rumbling, and so the buildings are ember sleepers, with their hearts under my feet. Is it possible that this fetus of you, not yet still-born, shall emerge each morning, here, from this yellow and orange, fading to ordinary day after my common absorption in this city?
Against your prickled cheek
Returned with a dewy greeting
From liminal places
I linger to see your unreadable smile
go slack again, blissfully away,
only briefly and I am back in the red-plastic hallway, suspending to curve my arm around to the neglected lamp switch, imagining your body glowing suddenly in the dark, brighter than the brick beasts painted in the window, as bright as their hearts on the floor.
I pass by my roommate’s sealed ward – contracted moans, like a dysfunctional fog horn from the depths – and ignore the eager scraping at the door. Kitchen extinguished, I head instinctively for the exit, groping for the latch by the smudged speck of the peephole.
“You know why I hate dogs?” a boy
Once said to me.
“You want something carefree,
Running ‘round the backyard.
Because no one loves you
As effortlessly unconditional
As a dog.
Trouble is, they die sooner,
If you’re lucky.
Life will always be harder
Than you hope, murderously,
For it to be.”
Outside, I join late October and the street is dusted with anticipatory frost. My contacts burn, then freeze, dulling the carpet sparkle – the world at repose. My companions are the taxi driver, waiting, and the woman who daily passes, watching the ground for warmth.
The stock still trees, the pigeon floundering
On one wing in tufts of grass and gravel.
At twenty-six, I
Like the buildings, the not-yet-dawn,
Save for the glimpse of you
Folded in the foils
Where I stay.