Northwords Now

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Dalarna, Sweden

by Stephen Keeler

Unwilling as a child to leave
the grown-ups to the revels,
the light dragged colour with it
like a blanket, towards the forest.

Far enough away to be ignored,
and seen, if anyone should chance to look,
as though through painted gauze,
the imprint of the day stood watching at the edge:

the fiddlers in embroidered coats;
the girls in linen stockings;
the solemn toddlers, overlooked;
the red-faced same-old-story-tellers,

and those who came differently compelled.

A clumsy boat is shoved onto the lake
and dips through reeds, becoming lighter;
a pair of rusting bikes propped beyond the sagging barn;
the road, fenced blue on either side with Gaudi lupins.

The fiddlers bow and scrape
as though afraid to let us go;
the old folk smile, and fade
like family photos in the sun.

Mosquitoes too are drunk, on blood that’s up,
and only widows sleep:
the night’s as ragged as the tree-tops,
inflamed with fever.

Seven flowers placed with care under an unvisited pillow.

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