Despair

Despair

“A creek is more powerful than despair.”
— Jim Harrison

Do you remember the moment before I knew you,
when neither of us existed in the manner in which
a creek does not exist before rain?
I’ve been dreaming the last few nights that I found you,
an eddy that would not,
as it wound up, receive me. You were a star
with ancient arrowheads of trout,
and I felt the pain of breathing then.
Remember the moment you no longer understood
how the rocks could swim like seals,
or how oceans are small compared to the creeks
running through the centre of our lives?
I wonder,is there a fifth season, wandering,
a twisted creek that, with its long fingers,
no longer feels for a Spring?

The Manner in which it Does

What I would like to forget is the snow
The way it does.
The manner in which it hesitates
On the black earth like backs of fish
chumming in shallow haze
Trampling over frozen words.
The young deer making it across the car
Scouring the brain’s slippery scrawl.
The coming of Summer, the light
Loose in the fields for the love of other things
Which still sing to me from
Shadows smouldering behind trees.

Engulfing

And I see the river through the window,
as if the window were the river.
“Your metaphor,” you remark, “confuses me.”
It does not confuse you.
You know, inside the window,
instinct stirs, reeling, changing
course, giving back itself.
Engulfing it, you
confuse the river.

It doesn’t

It doesn’t matter what you lost.
It’s the manner in which you did.
As if love were actually a skin,
Not a coat whose pockets
Ceased to become pockets,
A material closed around hands,
But, then, an opening.

House

I wander around the house
like a ghost, like a mouse,
like a bird
looking for what
I once was.

Opeongo

If I could take back
every word,
now,

to settle
back between
us,

our unweighable
silence,
our highest
branches,
thinly touching.

No word for ‘us’ —
only the wild guesswork
of wind, the
tips of our tongues
grasping for the
taste of it, already
tasting the end.

Remember that afternoon
we left together,
coming off
Lake Opeongo
the wind busy
scattering

its big islands of white clouds
crossing the
dash like
Thomson’s ‘Summer Day,’

you turning
to peer away,
drawing me in, then,
to the reflection of
you — green and
blue hills
of birch, nearly
transparent,

tamarack,
slender and
teetering.

Goodnight

I’m looking for a poem,
perhaps in a book
I read once to you in bed.
But, I find you’ve fallen asleep; these days
you won’t say how tired you’ve become,
that nights are only good
if you can shut your eyes to them.
So, I look over, and wonder,
should I wake you,
ask, how tired you’ve become
because the light’s still on,
and my shadow covers you
like a thin blanket
that cannot hold you
from the cold.

Your Small Hands

Their thoughts,
that few birds
have ever flown,
or trailed meteors
falling in and out
of earth
and among their higher branches,
arrows in tamaracks; instead,
raking, each collects
summer’s wintered
leaves, dragging
mounds of grief,
eyes swollen
as small nests where
two birds sing beautiful,
always.