Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Friday, October 2, 2015

Concerning Doors


They're like Calvinist ministers. Merciless oak.
Posture rod-rigid. They're
like politicians; they force us to shake their hands.
They are like dancers: if they cannot swing
and sway, well hey, they would rather
fade into the wall.

They are like laws that sometimes come
between us, sometimes save us from our rage.

When a logger revs the chainsaw and draws
it across a Douglas fir, listen:
from all up and down two hundred feet
of poised timber comes the sound
of doors slamming in suburbia.

Driving the highway, you see them:
uniform, sad doors of motels,
all shut, all locked, all painted
yellow, one yellow bulb above each door.

Note that in the offices of power,
the closed doors are more powerful,
and are larger, than most walls.

In quick old comic films,
villains chased Our Silent Hero
down and across a corridor of doors.
One of the early schticks.

Swinging doors of the set of a
Western looked like a gambler's vest.
Comes the actor playing the slinger
bursting through, his spurs singing
in the sudden scripted silence
like crickets on a prairie. CUT TO:
outside: out through those weak
doors staggers a shot body, stiff
as a real door, then down the steps
and falling into dust. An
American narrative.

The last room alas is only as wide as
its door. You won't hear the pebbles knocking.



hans ostrom 2015





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