Marine monotony, ocean giving way to ocean, / a grammar of latitudinal minutes, hours, days.

The poet, Nyla Matuk, stares up toward the right corner of the frame. She has dark hair and wears a dark jacket. The background is periwinkle blue.
The Walrus

A slow summer evening
like an almost-boiled lobster.
I swelter in the city.
I peruse an art magazine.
I spot Sonia Delaunay in a half plié
wearing a large ruff around her neck,
holding its tulle with gloved hands,
desiring the sun or a flame
like a rehabilitating Pomeranian or mannered clown,
looking sideways at the camera,
her pantaloons delirious with chevrons.
She is painting a woman in a dress
of blue-and-white triangles—sea swells,
a summer of the usual peaches of late August,
then September evenings with cherry brandy, tree shadows,
shivers of a meteor shower, and the colour maroon,
reminder of a long-ago death.
I imagine Sonia’s springtime coming and going in lilac, lavender,
and moonstone, the circular affair of a family of cockatoos.
Only Prose of the Trans-Siberian could subdue that subtle chortling.
The Antarctic, a shrinking fable, became the heel of a loaf
of bread marking zones of discretion with the finality of ice.
Marine monotony, ocean giving way to ocean,
a grammar of latitudinal minutes, hours, days.
Listening to Sonia, words come to me in colours—
I speak into a bubble-making machine.
Her voice leads me to the tune of a laundromat’s
pale hum, toward implication. I think of death and I forget
death. Finally, I have no choice in this eleventh matter.
They say we are all, after all, in this together.
I call the exercise Awareness of an Order Foretold.
A ritual of soap and softener. Innocence, a lack of colour,
hysteria of an irreversible togetherness.
Shantung pyjamas pressed and whispering. Kimonos
in a princess’s dresser, sheltering a secret.
Cycle upon cycle, ruination to ruination.

Nyla Matuk
Nyla Matuk’s most recent books are Stranger (2016) and Resisting Canada: An Anthology of Poetry (2019). In 2018, Matuk served as the Mordecai Richler Writer-in-Residence at McGill University.