Tuesday, May 23, 2006

5 AM

The road and the sky
are the same slate grey. Everywhere
grey light, as though the coming sun
has woken the world to its own
potential for vision. We feel
very distinct, tired but clear,
our eyes wide open.

On the bridge, a man with a dog
watches the river change colour.
His shoulders are square. His
dog lays by his feet, head on paws. They could
have been there all night, they
indicate with their relaxed tableau,
they could be there all day.

It is fragile, this grey clarity. Even
as I come back alone from
the airport, the streets have begun
to lose their quiet. At the turn onto Portage,
three cars wait with mine, and at the
Tim Horton's drive through, a tail
of commuters are ordering muffins,
starting the day.

At home, I surrender to my bed
again, although I do not sleep. The cat
comes to knead your pillow and I watch
the light brighten behind the curtains,
I can't seem to close my eyes, I imagine
your plane lifting into the sky, slipping
between the sun's fingers, a grey bird
chasing night all the way to Edmonton.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I am so behind in poems. I don't know if I will catch up or not - my brain is elsewhere these days, on the book, on my hobbies, on the endless list of improvements that I'm making to my own house.

Ah well. I milked the muse pretty hard last month, maybe the old girl deserves a bit of a break.


While you are not here, I improve
the house. I hang pictures, I fix
the creaky door's creak, I manage
to install a garbage disposal. Our bed: new sheets.
The living room: new lamps, a series of
shadowboxes which hold many
meaningful photographs featuring people
who love us and are loved. The upstairs
bathroom: shelves and a mirror,
which reflects my harried hair
and my lonely eyes. I cut the lawn, I weed
the garden, I plant ten begonias down
the side of the house. I pull up the carpet
in the basement. On Friday
I move all the furniture around,
in the hopes that it will stop reminding me
that you are not here to use it.

You will not recognise things when
you return, you will be amazed, you will
see with new eyes all the places
you took for granted and realise how much
you missed them, how beautiful they are
now, how much you want to know them
again. You will love it.

Monday, May 08, 2006


I exercise my dominant mammal rights
on this small piece of land between the house
and the sidewalk. The plants here
are mine, to do with as I will. Trowel in hand,
I commit genocide on yarrow, povertyweed,
the never-defeated armies of dandelions.
I dig deep, going for the roots, I understand,
as conquerers must, that the most important defeat
must happen underground, that the smallest defiant shred
can raise an army again, that a nation
of nodding peonies cannot live in the shadow
of purple loosestrife.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


I remember how it was
to be stupid-young, so pretty and so
new to it, drunk on power like
a thirteen year old on strawberry wine,
my breasts my hair my navel
tarted out in ten-dollar tanktops
and thirty-dollar shoes. I threw myself at
the world, expecting it to catch me,
a million hands opening to receive
my bounty.

The closest practice I had for it was
when I was ten and had just learned
about mosquitoes - the way they follow
carbon monoxide back to the source, the way
that they can track you from miles away. I went
into my bedroom, knelt at the screen and
breathed out gently, watching with avid
glee the frantic swarming that

Friday, May 05, 2006

cat poem

Hang, we call it, her little
carry-on of fur and flab
pendulously swinging beneath
her belly. She's become too fat
or middle aged to be efficient - when
she jumps it's not athletic,
she doesn't make it look easy, you
can tell she's working hard, breaking
a sweat getting up to that chairseat.

Still, she's ageing gracefully, getting
greyer around the edges, making
no bones about her love of drowsing
in the sun. She's more likely to muscle
onto your lap than attack your feet.
When you pet her, she falls down,
turns over with a grunt, exposes the long
chubby line of belly. The move
is still endearing, the way she looks
at us, willing us to hold up
our end of the bargain.

Cats are not gods, Egyptian or
other, they aren't wise, they don't
know secrets we don't know, except
ones about the death of small squeakers.
This cat is foolish and silly, she is a terrible
shedder, she has kitty dandruff. Her tail
is too short. She is terrified of other cats,
even ones half her size. Every day
she teaches me
things I already know. Trust
is beautiful, love needs
no reason, and
surrendering dignity
is optional.

Monday, May 01, 2006


At last at age 29 I am
in love with myself again.
When I was five I knew this
feeling, this absolute love of body
and mind, this endless fascination
of skin and fingers and flex
and flex.

In bed I love my body with his,
arch and arch, the feeling that we
are driving forward into nothing,
making the universe as we go, and it is
his body and mine, my body arching
over the final crest of creation, oh,
I am me, right down to my toes.

Naked for the shower I stop
to watch myself in the mirror. Pose
and turn, hunch, straighten, glance
over the shoulder, Vrksasana,
Garudasana, all my bones straight
and strong.

You left me

I was, perhaps, five. We were climbing among the bales, great round prickly things like golden cinnamon rolls laid on their sides. The world smelled like dust and hay and our girlish sweat. We were pretending something, we were princesses or elves or maybe Robin Hood. I fell between two bales, my small body slithering downward, my shirt filling with straw. Thump to the ground, a space not quite big enough to turn around in, no leverage to climb out. The hay slipped and slid beneath my sandals. My knees were red. Help I said, trying not to cry. Your face like God blotted out the sky above me. You can get out, you said, and you left. I screamed and wept - it was an eternity of minutes before our father came, reached down and drew me out, small wretched peg from her hole. I don't remember much else other than the sinking despair of you leaving me, you leaving me.
I think that's when it happened, my decision not to need you anymore.

May Day

New month, new poem-a-day resolution. Here's the official blog for it: May Day.