Ethelbert: Ten Days in May
From Then/again. Published by Nightwood Editions in 2017. Michelle Elrick is the author of To Speak. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry Is Dead and on CBC television. She was a finalist in the CBC Poetry Prize in 2015. She lives in Halifax.
day two the clock ticks, but I can’t see the time. the breeze from the window causes sheets to bow and billow. light filters through textiles all around. I am hiding out. I am hiding in. I am hiding.
day three we used twine and tacks and safety pins. some corners tied knots. four of us built the fort in about an hour, now it’s only me. time passes differently when you are alone.
I sleep in the great room where the walls hang from the rafters. morning sun: green leaves flicker on stems outside. I watch the window. no one approaches.
day five the fort starts to age: seams split, walls drift, new passageways appear, cracks in the roof. last night I was cold in my sleep. I pulled a green wall down and wrapped myself in it. now there is another way out to the kitchen.
day six soon I will take it down (the couch a spring-dented hull: crumbs, pennies where the cushions belong) I don’t know yet how. the fort is a good place to think.
day eight inside, there are questions but no answers. peaks and parted openings make an acceptable form, a temporary space, unresolved/deteriorating resolve. the questions are patient. we wait together, me and them.
day nine something has changed: the fort is just a fort. I am not hid after all. besides, who is searching?