I pause my hands after tying the corset
of Karl Johans’ gate. With each step away it

unraveled like a snake. A bouquet of Cajun blue
hibiscus lies at its head, petals covering

gravel scales. No, a roll of paper dissolving
in a toilet bowl; a pile of snow, gray from

feet walking up to see the city’s spine.
His statue is the color of a face

underwater. I touch the horse’s leg but feel a cold spoon.
Noble figure, I cannot find his shadow.

Above, clouds like the plume of a sarcophagus
coast toward the wharf where they become

the horizon. I follow them down the nose
of Oslo with its citizens, a few out to see the morning become noon.

They float by like tissues. At each turn
a hesitation, an empty blouse teasing me to take

my time in long motions. The sun drapes a spool
of yarn around my neck. Up the hill to Akershus Fortress,

up the curve of a back, the long sabers of her crown —
hallucinating an uneven body.

At its wall a Baltic wave
droning endlessly. Within the wave the quiet

of excavating the snow hill at the top of my driveway,
a motion like wolves digging into the carcass

of a deer. My hands were numb and sweat was on my neck
from an act that in my 10 year old body was momentous.

In the quiet I could hear my whittled cavern cave in,
a decade collapsing. Touching my sternum,

I hold my breath, the shadow of Akershus covering me.



Nick Mcguire