There are the brightest apples on those trees
but until I, fabulist, have spoken
they do not know their significance
or what other legends are hung like garlands
on their black boughs twisting
like a rumour. The wind's noise is empty.
Nor are the winged insects better off
though they wear my crafty eyes
wherever they alight. Stay here, my love;
you will see how delicately they deposit
me on the leaves of elms
or fold me in the orient dust of summer.
And if in August joiners and bricklayers
are as thick as flies around us
building expensive bungalows for those
who do not need them, unless they release
me roaring from their moth-proofed cupboards
their buyers will have no joy, no ease.
I could extend their rooms for them without cost
and give them crazy sundials
to tell the time with, but I have noticed
how my irregular footprint horrifies them
evenings and Sunday afternoons:
they spray for hours to erase its shadow.
How to dominate reality? Love is one way;
imagination another. Sit here
beside me, sweet; take my hard hand in yours.
We'll mark the butterflies disappearing over the hedge
with tiny wristwatches on their wings:
our fingers touching the earth, like two Buddhas.
Poem printed without permission by Irving Layton (Canadian, b. 1912). This weekend celebrates the 100th anniversary of the poet's birth.