Under Canvas

Every day before he goes to work
the man stakes out his territory.
He erects his old-fashioned tent over me,
stretching the canvas with each peg
hammered in like a nail in my coffin,
the pole of his arrogance holding up
the ridge pole, the tent pulled tight as he
adjusts the tension of the guy ropes.
He spreads the groundsheet over me,
suffocating my resistance. Finally,
zips shut the door flaps.

There I lie, all day, pinned down,
muffled, aware only vaguely of
the world going on outside of me,
of this thin canvas veil of his forever
between me and a life of my own.
I’m used to it by now, it’s been
going on for years, I’ve stopped
struggling or tugging helplessly
at the pegs and ropes. I lie still
under my groundsheet, sometimes
humming to myself, or counting,
filling the time with fantasies and
listless attempts at thoughts.

All of my energy is needed
to concentrate on waiting.
I wait for him to come home
at the end of the day and pack the tent
methodically away. I wait for him
to release me to my evening and night
catering to his whims and fancies.

I wait for the day when he doesn’t
pay attention, forgets the mallet
lying close by my brave left hand.