by Lorna Crozier
Two things that need each other: the mouth and the ear, the left foot and the right, the wind and the listing hawk, the doorknob and the hand. Yet the doorknob dreads the human touch. It has a phobia for germs, especially the knobs made of glass common in the 1940s after the war, a touch of class in small stuccoed houses with big radios and ottomans of fake leather. To respect the fears of doorknobs, you should always wear a glove or, with a chamois, rub away the invisible bacilli you leave behind. Who has time for that? Anyway you’d be pushed aside by others in a rush. You’d be mocked and laughed at. Best not to think about it. There are whales, after all, and disappearing salmon. Disappearing doorknobs? That’s a laugh. Like rats, they’ve adapted. In fact their population’s gone berserk. Think of every new skyscraper, every condo development eating up the fields and marshes at the edges of the cities. Think of the multitude of doors. Think of all the dread each building holds.
All doorknobs are twins, joined at the centre by a bolt narrow as a pencil, inflexible, un-vertebraed. Though they move as one, they never get to see each other. They are like brothers separated at birth by war, by a wall of stone and broken glass. Neither speaks of this. One turns; the other turns. One is outside the room; the other, in. If the door is the entrance to the house, one shimmers with the rain; the other is dull and dry. One is often cold or hot; the other basks in the temperate climate of the thermostat. Does anything pass between them? Does a rumour, a memory, a snatch of song run through the metal spine like an electric shock when the door is opened? Perhaps they desire different things and loathe each other. Each knob wanting, above all else, not to turn in the same direction as its double on the opposite side of the door.
Lorna Crozier’s latest books are the poetry collection Small Mechanics and the memoir Small Beneath the Sky. A Distinguished Professor at the University of Victoria, she is the recipient of several awards for poetry, including the Governor General’s, and two honorary doctorates for her contributions to Canadian literature. She lives with poet Patrick Lane and two fine cats.