Look how the moon hangs
its luminous sign outside
the bedroom window: the man
with a grin is open for business!
But in your private dark, nothing
so grand – only the chest-warming
glow of a night-light never turned off:
being able to take one good deep
breath after another, and feel
your own durable heart pumping
steadily in unsteady times,
its rivers, rich with blessing,
coursing through a world
that knows the fierce
need of it.
Another older poem which first appeared in North Shore Magazine and then my chapbook “Stealing Eternity”.
My poem “Shine” has just been published in Arc Poetry Magazine 86, the Summer 2018 Issue, available only as a print issue right now. Shine didn’t win Arc’s Poem of the Year award but was shortlisted for it. You can read the poem and the judge’s comments here. I am very honoured to be among the finalists and to have this poem finally go out into the world and what a beautiful journal to make its first appearance in!
I’ve been off the grid for a couple of weeks, away boating where there’s no cell reception or internet or papers or TV! I hope to post more frequently, now that I’m back and almost completely moved into our new house (on a very large island no less!).
My father had the good fortune
to be visited by six women
last Friday: Carol came to clean
his house, do laundry, get the mail,
Sue to bathe him, then cook lunch
and dinner, Ann to cut his gnarly
toe nails and massage his feet, Barb—
a nurse—to check his vitals, Louise
to tame his dead wife’s garden, and
Lynne, his daughter from three thousand
miles away, to make sure he was okay.
The door kept opening, we came
and went, and the golden October
light wandered from room to room,
like us, not in a hurry to leave. And he
glowed with the attention, feasting on
a cornucopia of witty conversation
through the rise and fall of our busy hands,
we, the chance wives of widower row.
But come darkness across the sheets
of his bed, we were all forgotten as he
patted the spot beside him, whispering
“Night-night, love”—as he always had—
to the irreplaceable one.
This poem, first published in Calyx Journal, is in my new chapbook “Irresistible”, just out and available from Finishing Line Press here and also available for purchase from Amazon here. Any customer reviews are especially appreciated on either site!
At the dinner party, eleven people,
A striking redhead, warmly smiling—
the one whose world had recently halved.
Those of us who didn’t know
wouldn’t have known.
I’m used to death
ringing a bell that won’t stop
singing of loss as love’s
forgotten child—a call to mass
sung down the long corridors
The mouth that can hush it
speaks to me
of a love built brick by brick,
circling a great and dangerous fire,
holding that heat
like a hand to the heart
when only ash is left.
Has lips full of secret amens,
stretching a smile beyond
mere courtesy, until it cracks
me open, I who have not
yet travelled that road
or those blurred miles from home.
Night falls before we know it:
death has a thing for a man about
to retire. Like a virus, it jumps
from acquaintance to friend to kin,
no sympathy for women and children.
Taking on mass and weight, given
a name, it terribly crowds a room.
This being human—to matter.
Through our bodies. Past them.
Her smile all I can see
of love’s fierce alchemy—bright
crack of light escaping a closed door.
Another poem from my new chapbook “Irresistible”, available from Finishing Line Press here and from Amazon here
Death’s an increasingly regular face
in our crowd, mostly dropping by
unannounced, such that I, too, might
turn over one morning, prompted awake
by Brother Jake on our favourite rock
radio station and find you smiling, your
eyes still closed, and nestling my head
as usual into your armpit and laying
my left arm across your belly,
fall through the ice
of a body devoid of breath,
and wonder what bad dream this is.
Forgive me for thinking then of your
Achilles heel—your feet so sensitive,
no one can touch them. For three
decades, just the dare of my hand
hovering over an exposed foot has
got you up and running. I confess to
imagining your eventual acquiescence
as a deliberate act of love to me some
wine-deep night on holiday. Not me
frantically rubbing your feet, rubbing
them like magic lamps, wishing
This poem was first published in the Malahat Review and is included in my new chapbook “Irresistible”, available for purchase from Finishing Line Press here
Children grown, two out of three gone,
we drag our feet putting outside lights up,
buying and decorating a tree.
We settle for the bushes, a whimsical snaking
of lit Smarties among leaves, get the smallest tree
nobody else wants. That stormy year
our street lost power as Christmas day turned
to evening, and we had a dozen hungry guests
roaming the house, bumping into things.
Because the gas stove had been cooking a turkey
for hours, it continued, and we cheered
the range burners could be lit with a match.
The two gas fireplaces burned more sedately—
fan flow interrupted—and of course there were
candles on the dining room table anyway.
My husband fired up a generator, plugged in
a lamp, stereo and the bulbous bush lights; orange
and yellow cords extended everywhere.
I imagined our neighbours gazing out
from dark windows at the bright cosmos
of our house, the raucous hum of
determination in the air. If Christmas
was all about seeing the light
in each other, it didn’t fail to surprise:
how happy it made me, having a reason
to move closer, peer and be peered at,
glimpse among flickering faces the child
I was before my heart got wrapped in
scar tissue, who once got a letter from Santa
saying he was on his way, and didn’t I
then on the eve of my seventh Christmas
see him tiptoe past my bedroom door!
I miss the girl who believing, saw.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Also, my chapbook “Irresistible” is still available for pre-orders until January 12, 2018. Since advance sales determine the pressrun, such purchases make a huge difference! In the mood? Many thanks – you can reserve a copy here: