Le mot juste
Searching for le mot juste,
the exact word that sums it all up,
catches the essence of the thing
and holds it in the mind forever.
Think flowers. Think scent.
Think of the limited ways
we describe how daffodils
lilt and clematis clings.
I look across the breakfast
and see my wife of fifty years,
a teenager reborn, walking into
that café where we had our first date.
I search my memory and my
for the words to describe that beauty,
that surge of excitement,
I still feel when she enters the room:
but find I cannot find le mot juste.
Yours are the hands that raise
that rescue me from dark depression,
that haul me from life’s whirlpool,
that clench around the jaws that bite,
that save me from the claws that snatch.
Yours are the hands that move
on the chess board of my days and nights,
that break my breakfast eggs and bread,
that bake my birthday cake and count
the candles that you place and light.
You are the icing on that cake,
is the beauty that strips the scales
from my eyes, then blinds me with light.
My body’s house has many rooms
and you, my love,
are present in them all. I glimpse your shadow
in the mirror and your breath brushes my cheek
when I open the door. Where have
I walk from room to room, but when I seek,
I no longer find and nothing opens when I knock.
Afraid, sometimes, to enter a
room, I am sure
you are in there. I hear your footsteps on the stair.
Sometimes your voice breaks the silence
when you whisper my name in the
same old way.
How can it be true, my love, that you have gone,
that you have left me here alone? I count the hours,
the days, embracing dust motes to find no solace
in occasional sunbeams and salacious dreams.
Roger Moore is an award-winning poet and short-story writer. Born in the same town as Dylan Thomas, he emigrated from Wales to Canada in 1966. An award-winning author, CBC short story finalist (1987 and 2010), WFNB Bailey award (poetry, 1989 & 1993), WFNB Richards award (prose, 2020), he has published 5 books of prose and 25 books and chapbooks of poetry.
Over 150 of his poems and short stories have appeared in 30 Canadian magazines and literary reviews, including Arc, Ariel, The Antigonish Review, the Fiddlehead, the Nashwaak Review, Poetry Toronto, Poetry Canada Review, the Pottersfield Portfolio and The Wild East. He and his beloved, Clare, live in Island View, New Brunswick, with their cat, Princess Squiffy, but they live on the far side of the hill from the St. John River, with the result that there is not an island in view from their windows in Island View. Visit Roger’s website here.