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institute Sesquiotic


Reading the Paper on the Subway

published in TOK 3 (2008)

Hair the ruffled, windswept prairie,
nose and glasses dug and buried
in the day's facts and friction,
sex and war, covert action,
brow the furrowed, frowning field;

scarf in grain and hay and humus,
jacket wheatsheaf, frayed and fibrous,
fingers folded on the leaves
dark and smudging, pad and crease,
pants the rise and fall of hills.

Globe and Mail, the nation's bids,
front and back, ledes and ads,
rale and cough of twitching country,
mayor's rye, trader's barley,
shield for dry Canadian eyes,

how he holds it, ploughs it, reaps it,
in his grey-thatched storehouse saves it,
harvest of the broken air,
corns of talk, lost dust of days,
sifting chaff of ink and crackle.

Eyes now lifting, in his vision,
searching still to know his station,
he reflects the ache and profit
of his hours in solemn office
late returned to hollow ground.

Soon he stands and, business folding,
goes with doors and riders yielding,
ploughing under, mounting stairs,
goes to earth and then to air,
tiller of the turning times.


All contents 2000–2008 James Harbeck