Tourists

It looks like it’s me,

this yellow couch

in this window of particle and light.

Can we be sure

or do we confuse certainty

with things that stay?

When I hear you call my name

like a lighthouse,

like a shaft of dust in sun,

does that bring us nearer

to an answer,

or to that bluff

we’d never perfectly pronounce,

the capital of emptiness,

that place we’d see, sometimes,

up above the bay?

Draft

I remember the pain.

Now a thought, like a pillar

cracked down the centre

holding a roof that leaks

into the basement.

I listen for

the tiny letters

the steps of mice

write in stone.

I feel a draft this evening.

I felt for more, of course,

a river,

the bright black hair

of the sun cooling my ankles

into pain,

no, not this pain,

this

idea of braille

as falling snow

burning into eyes.

Excerpts

The snow, loose upon the windows,
is a mass of seconds. Moments collide,
time migrates. Rockets cough sparks, stars
dust out. The things you say to yourself is glass
on which cold excerpts light.
Learn their silences, what words don’t mean.
Memorize them, hum weather
no one’s witness to.

Work Horses Seen from a Road in December

The horses seem to be blackened grain in grainless fields.
Perhaps their watered eyes have frozen this world to stone,
the whites having seen to it that it blinks with snow.
I assume they know they cannot plow forever,
cannot continue to turn over sky matted with foreshadowing.
They must expect eventually it will overtake them,
outgrow their fields, see birds defect through contrails,
or, rather, fence lines withering under a lifeless winter sun,
not blinding but as it probes our night,
reveals the braille of what we are not able to see.
I stare at these second-sighted beasts,
groomed in weather’s imminence. Is truth beauty,
is it in their knowledge that this world will melt,
and though there will be no new world,
this is the one always leaving?

Becoming Winter

Yesterday I felt statues of deer tremble
from boughs of cherry trees, snow-feathered,
leg-trapped in sticky paths of goldenrod,
creek-oiled flowers of ice. And a white sun
swimming in shines of icy prey. 
Nothing is
what it is with me. Falling snow’s a gown,
the morning a luminescent fox.
I sway, gut-shot, in blizzard growls. I call to it, cull, cull,
a gizzard, ripe with heart of make-believed blood.
I cannot choose, I choose what comes to me. But choose.
Let each lie ask the beautiful questions of the hunter,
what man did I kill, what beast am I?

The Problem with Death

It’s not death because
only you feel your absence

And the birds translate
the broken windows’ whistling.

It’s death because
only you feel your absence

And the birds don’t understand
the broken windows’ song

is just the wind.

Portage

From the eleventh floor at my desk in Toronto,
I watch a band of Cormorants fill a landing place,
like a bracelet on the edge of a small lake.
It’s somewhere near Misabi, where the river,
like its twin, runs alongside the Nastawgan portage
that brings you to Obabika. I could hardly find it this summer
and on the video I’m watching, it’s nearly not there.
I’ve been thinking what somebody said recently,
Cormorants aren’t indigenous here,
so you can you blame them, they’re bloody,
and they’re so strangely beautiful.
I recall the trail again, from the window,
birds peeling away, as I do,
and below, the streets bare things the way fire bares
ruin and the skin of a heart, peeling away, too,
from every mark, like a blaze in a tree
whose writing is always about the path to water.

The Hunters

You were the animal that
trapped them with your eyes.
They killed you for them
but thought you’d try
to live through that.
They skinned alive the desert
for the inland sea.
When they saw you
from the blind,
they stroked your coat to say,
you were not theirs.
Animal,
how could you understand?
You were a story
they did not tell
about themselves.
You were the tracks
that lost your way to them
that they followed as
they went into the trees
that took them to the river
that you could not cross.

For Instance, the Geese

There is no name for that.
There’s no strength that holds happiness.
There’s no promised land of sadness.
The fields are gold with fall,
They are silver with winter.
The car is trailed with the filthy snow that led you here.
You note the windshield paintings,
the ancient figures, antelopes of ice melting into lakes,
Arms of blue rivers white with the harvest of clouds.
There was some mission.
About the mystery, you had come to
an understanding. For instance,
the geese circling forming wonder —
so why stay so long with them into winter?
What was the sound that we made,
if not a cry?

Because She Danced

Yes, the windows have needed replacing for years
(she had said to him a thousand times.)
But she left them, their tenuous existence,
half-reflections seeing to her forgetfulness.
She will remember when you’re
elsewhere, though, you’re sure,
how much she spent on the necessities,
like the fence to keep the dogs
from tearing up the riverbank at Christmas,
decorating their bodies with burrs,
and dance lessons for the girls
because, well, she danced once, too.
She’ll find it difficult to date memory,
the algebra of the two-sided gaze, here
minus but also plus back there.
She’ll know it’s been some time, though,
how she’d go to one,
and how opening made her different,
that for a time it changed her life,
feeling something more come in.