You look at the paint
on the ceiling
you know you know
it is just a flex
a lift a curl
from peel

you feel you feel
the segments of time
divide themselves
again and again
the when the edge opens
the when the adhesion fails
the when the split becomes
when the moment

you feel you feel
with absolute certainty
the indrawn breath
that starts it all

you know you know you know
the flat hard truth is
it will happen

you feel
the triviality of
the arc of the life
of a coat of paint
you know
it’s not really the paint
that worries you


3 thoughts on “Stand-In

  1. I relate to this poem in its literal form and as metaphor. We have some patches of ceiling that would benefit from repainting but the paint is so old (from long before we moved in) that there is no chance of trying to just do a patch job. We would have to do the whole ceiling. And as a metaphor I know all too well realising, whether at the time or in retrospect, that there was a precise moment in time when I recognised that some aspect of my life was about to flake or peel. Sometimes I respond in the nick of time and other times it just drifts onwards into a bigger remedial job.

    • Once again I am fascinated by the idea that there is the peeling point, let’s say, and then there are tiny segments in the countdown to it, and at which point the process could still be stopped. As you say, in paint, or in life, there are always signs. And as for the ceilings in your house, my equivalent are closets. Oh I would rather do almost any job than paint a closet.

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