Poetry

Wordsmith

In my mind I call my father
the pollyfilla king, watch
with something akin to awe
as he begins the arduous process
of filling in the gaps, the long-winded
cracks that travel down the walls of my house
like run-on sentences.

From the sidelines I watch as he trudges
up and down the stairs, carrying
with nonchalance an industrial-sized bucket,
shiny spatula tucked into back pocket
for easy access.

Over and over again
with precision and grace
he fills and smooths and sands
as if filling in all of the empty crevices
with the words he didn’t know how to say,
the lost syllables and consonants springing up
from the bucket, stubbornly announcing themselves
home, until there is only smoothness,
my fifty-eight-year-old house a perfect sentence,

the veritable sheen of its walls
privy to this father of mine,
whose love keeps him moving
from room to room, brightly asking,
Do you think you’ll be painting the other room
upstairs sometime? I could start work on it now.
Then it’ll be ready for painting.
Yes, I say, yes
my face aglow.

(From Chasing Halley’s Comet, Federation of B.C. Writer’s Festival of the Arts Contest Winners)

THREE POEMS

Cartography

She will not send her daughter into the world
like a Gretel
mapless
dependent upon the kindness of strangers.
She will not,
though most of the time
it’s the people you know.
How to explain this
to a girl who looks her in the eye
and says,
Nothing’s going to happen.
(I thought the same)

I’m smart, you know.
I talk to my friends. In fact,
I probably know more than you.

(not this)
What do you think, anyway—
I’m going to get raped?

Unadorned

And when it is over
you must walk
back into the world,
the air peculiar
against your body

The Tiny Details Of Being Human

Suddenly, this winter,
I have begun to call myself sweetie;
at home, in private,
in my head.
It makes everything easier, somehow,
even my grief.
And now,
at the uppity hair salon,
it slips out of my mouth,
landing like a kiss on the receptionist’s cheek.
Loud and platinum,
she’s not anyone I’ve felt an affinity with,
yet, having suffered my own trials,
I suspect she has too.
Sweetie, I say,
Sweetie.

(From The New Quarterly, 113 – Winter 2010)

She Contemplates the Necessary Questions

Place bulbs in a dark place for ten days. Do not disturb.
It seems almost miraculous.
The idea of, tricking nature, tricking herself
into spring.

Standing perfectly still.
A ten day respite in the cool dankness of the basement,
a closed off room where seasonal decorations and
gifts purchased throughout the year are kept.
No tasks to complete, no clamour
of voices.

She imagines herself growing wise, serene,
hyacinths springing forth from the openings in her ears
as she stands in the dark, perfectly still, perfect,
forget-me-nots forming a delicate shelf across her chest.

(From Room, volume 32.1)

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