Mine is a grey brick building with locks,
On the doors,on the elevator, on computers and on lips.
As S comes in and takes off her winter coat, she places a brown bag beside her hat. “My breast fell off last night”, she says, eyes streaming. “It landed on the bathroom rug. I wonder if someone could help me put it back on”. “I have some glue-stick”, says O. “I will help you”.
By my side is L who stares at her computer screen with eyes wide open. One is missing. How did you lose your eye, dear sister? One so bright and sparkling, the other now puckered and empty.
I spin, suspended, but catch a glimpse of you my old friend, I. Like aurora borealis, you are light and flow. You put out your hand to me. As I take my next breath, you shimmer again. I can no longer see you.
I call to D to tell me what is happening, but my throat freezes. She sees me and tries to answer. Her silvery words came out towards me, but before they form a bridge between us, they arch up over her head, and fall onto her fine hair, spilling down her shoulders. She stands still as her mouth fills with word flakes and then freezes as she tries to shake them loose. There is wildness in her eyes as her nostrils bubble and threaten to close completely.
I take another step towards her but it is A who smiles and calls to me. As she reaches out her brown arms, her torso falls to the floor, and she keeps on smiling. Her strong hands grip the chair and she pulls herself back onto her hips. “I’m fine. Just a little shorter now”, she says as she laughs, and waves me away.
“What’s wrong R”, says I who appears again beside me. It is the last sound I hear. My ears have caught on fire and crumble into ash at the touch of my fingers. They disappear as smoke rises in to the cold blue light, leaving my eyes alone to witness what is swirling around me.
Sé, Sé, Sé … Sévérité
I try to move on, but T blocks my way. She is three times as wide as she was yesterday and I can’t get around her. She seems to be shouting and her mouth curls up with sharp alarm and then down to that raspy place where scowls have already set in, and joy has turned to dry leaves.
In the end there is Y is still at her desk, holding up wrist-less arms as if to type while her hands lie uselessly to the side. She hits the space bar with stumps, but the key board jams and the screen turns into 2 windows and then 4 and 8 then 16 and 32 and 64 and 128.
Images produced and then doubled,
Silent. Frozen. Broken. Blocked.
– Ottawa, August 2013
Your husky voice caught me by surprise
Not that I didn’t know it, or the deep laugh that followed,
But because of the unexpected jab and then praise
For my efforts to dig through four decades of Mum and King Billy’s lilies.
We were all drenched by mid-day
You and the saws-all against railroad tie
The contest shook the living daylights out of you
Still, you walked away victorious and said
You thought you would tackle the shingles next.
I would swear on the bible in the piano bench that
That was only last week,
But now it gets dark before supper
And ice forms as crystal against old glass
Winter will not be long in coming again
I listened for you today
In the flash of rainbow light against a white cloud
But I couldn’t hear a thing.
I thought I knew your voice in every season,
But I miscounted, you might say –
‘No. It was only two.’
– November 26, 2012
Dusty white cedars
As beautiful as last year’s grasses through snow
Old goldenrod wearing their winter caps bow before
Ditches as caskets for frozen bullrushes
In death retain their beauty
Cracks in the asphalt jump up against cold hard tires
The sander has left its own arcs on the road
We’ve kicked them up and roll on through this
Dark grey path between black gone white gone brown
Like the snowy tracks of last year’s swather
Through the stubble of hay in the fields beside us
Snow flakes darting about
End up like flies on the windshield a few months back
An afternoon drive in black and white
Where you don’t slow down before looking in the rear view mirror
For the big grill coming up behind you
Bare tree branches inked
Against the muffled glow of the setting sun
Clouds settle in and over us
An old granny throws a snowy blanket across the earth
Getting ready to tuck us in for the night
– January 8, 2012