"The Runner"

Sheree Fitch

She runs:

                        past men in blue suits with red ties

                        men bunched by the elevator door

                        men in denim jackets and jeans

                        huddled by a cigarette machine


She runs:

                        past women with drawstring mouths

                        women with wombs puckered out

                        from plum to grape to raisin

                        women who have never known

                        what wetness means


She runs:  in this outer space and finds a door


She rests:

                        a drummer sidesteps up to her

                        whispers in her ear

                        I’d like to get to know you



She runs:  in fear of the lion


She rests

She watches


She appeals to a lady

beneath a red and white canopy

– what kind of place is this

                                        and what day


but the lady snaps shut her compact

does an about turn high heel walk away

on her back is a piece of cardboard

cut with pinking shears

words in green felt-tip marker


She reads:

                        I AM APHRODITE


So she runs:

                        past a candy counter of green and gold and red foil

                        through glass doors marked pull

                        past a barbershop

                        through a parking lot

                        to Brunswick Street

                        where she stops before a tree

                        she tries to embrace this tree

                        this tree with bark

                        that is grey and green not brown

                        but the trunk is too thick

                        she cannot reach her arms around

                        and clasp her hands


A voice yells:

                        hey lady why are you hugging that tree for?


So she climbs:

                        (to make it look like she has business there)


but the first branch is too high

she cannot find a toehold

the man who lives on the top branch

spits on her saying:

– it’s already been sold

   this is my tree

   go find your own

She runs

She runs

She runs

She sniffs the sound of a telephone ringing

far in the distance

She follows the sound

She finds the phone

The voice on the other end rasps:

– is this the RCMP?


She runs

                        becomes the woman wailing beneath

                        the weeping willow tree

                        rapunzel rapunzel letting down her long hair


gets up and walks in slow motion sliding image

dissolves to X to X to Exit

Source:  Fitch, Sheree.  In this house are many women and other poems.  Goose Lane Editions, 1993.

"The Runner" was originally published in In this house are many women and other poems copyright © 1993, 2004 by Sheree Fitch. Reprinted by permission of Goose Lane Editions.