Metaphor is shadow.
Near me, it keeps its distance.
It lays down beside me, too,
as if I am a sundial
confessing a different time.
I struggle to grasp it,
grant it touch before it trails off.
I am wrestling for a universe against all the worlds
that don’t exist,
but sometimes, I think, they do
as they pass through, the numinous, the love
or the spoor of memory
that sees the hunter backtracking
through the accents of the river,
who has it recall
that he might have been the river.
I want to tell you the thing I want
to hear myself say.
I will make you to be this letter
and each line will be a line
that you cross over, and failing,
you will fall, and you will fall,
into this envelope.
It will be sealed, and for a minute,
it will be sent away,
until I taste the glue again.
“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?
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.
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 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.
I want to remind you
so that you understand
I speak your language,
that I know it in
is not home,
is not love.
That you forget
that words are more
I wander around the house
like a ghost, like a mouse,
like a bird
looking for what
I once was.
If I could take back
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,
the wind busy
its big islands of white clouds
Thomson’s ‘Summer Day,’
to peer away,
drawing me in, then,
to the reflection of
you — green and
of birch, nearly
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.