The Night Repairman

by Robert Peake

In his tool bag, there are candles,
long tapers like the stiff fingers
of a giant’s doll. He uses matches,
strike-on-box, and the flame begins
long before the match head leaves
the end of its textured runway.

Night flares up, from time to time,
just like this. The firemen
are no use. What is broken—a line,
a song, the handle of a door
into the life you always wanted—
can not be joined with Sellotape.

He is short, and, like a toad,
his eyes blink from the sides.
He takes his coffee black.
In his tool bag there are ointments
for the eyelids, powders to inhale.
Arsenic fills his bubble level.

Keep him busy with idle talking,
keep telling the truth to confuse him.
Watch his webbed hands, both of them,
how they delight in the leverage
of the spanner, the heft of a crowbar.
Admire from a distance, just in case.


2 thoughts on “The Night Repairman

  1. This is wonderful, beautifully done, and it reminds me a bit of another poem I love, Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Man-Moth,” — again, a strange, fanciful character inspired by a verbal expression or, in her case, a misprint (for mammoth).

  2. Thanks, Suzanne. This was definitely inspired by “The Man-Moth”, which remains one of my favourite poems. I think, in fact, you may have introduced me to it many years ago at a UCLA writing class.

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