My lady was found mutilated
in a Mountain Street boarding house.
My lady was a tall slender love,
like one of Tennyson’s girls,
and you always imagined her erect on a thoroughbred
in someone’s private forest.
But there she was,
naked on an old bed, knife slashes
across her breasts, legs badly cut up:
Dead two days.
They promised me an early conviction.
We will eavesdrop on the adolescents
examining pocket-book covers in drugstores.
We will note the broadest smiles at torture scenes
in movie houses.
We will watch the old men in Dominion Square
follow with their eyes
the secretaries from the Sun Life at five-thirty…
Perhaps the tabloids alarmed him.
Whoever he was the young man came alone
to see the frightened blonde have her blouse
ripped away by anonymous hands;
the person guarded his mouth
who saw the poker blacken the eyes
of the Roman prisoner;
the old man pretended to wind his pocket-watch…
The man was never discovered.
There are so many cities!
so many knew of my lady and her beauty.
Perhaps he came from Toronto, a half-crazed man
looking for some Sunday love;
or a vicious poet stranded too long in Winnipeg;
or a Nova Scotian fleeing from the rockets and preachers…
Everyone knew my lady
from the movies and art-galleries,
body by Goldwyn. Botticelli had drawn her long limbs.
Rossetti the full mouth.
Ingres had coloured her skin.
She should not have walked so bravely
through the streets.
After all, that was the Marian year, the year
the rabbis emerged from their desert exile, the year
the people were inflamed by tooth-paste ads…
We buried her in Spring-time.
The sparrows in the air
wept that we should hide with earth
the face of one so fair.
The flowers they were roses
and such sweet fragrance gave
that all my friends were lovers
and we danced upon her grave.