Until There Are Words

Her footsteps stand
at the top of the stairs,
I pretend
I am asleep.

I stand, too,
in my mind’s imitation of me
in the corner
of the room.

I see the dark shape of her ghost
traversing the room. I am frightened.
I can no longer
see this through,

her dream

in the body of a dead man
that wants to breathe
for me.

So for now,
until there are words,
this is how
we shall speak:

we will leave love behind,
it will take us back.

2:59 a.m.

Been some time, but I just saw you
this morning on Spadina Ave.
Not sure what I was doing there,
let’s say it wasn’t a coincidence,
since you were there, too.
Btw, talking about bullshit,
a friend and me were guilty of it,
remarking how a touch
can guide a man back
to the surface of his skin,
as softly as that city of yours
takes flight from
the grey shadows of its towers
over Lake Ontario.
I wanted to tell you this (‘cause,
mostly, I know how you like a man
who makes you laugh), but I woke up,
and its 2:59 a.m. and, damn’t,
you’re too far to feel my way back
through that darkness again.

Where the River Takes You

I had hoped the scratches
on my back you left
would remain, like

a grassy floor
a deer leaves,
after a night. But

you showed me
a moth’s wings, instead,
the deer knowing, then,

to stay quiet, within,
to lay in the breeze.
See the wings greying

to mirror the burn
around us, you said. Yes,
though you do not

seem, yet, to sense
the creases of
the old river skin’s

hands, fingerless upon
the brown bear
swimming

towards this mothy shore of trees,
its claws that cannot root
into marks,

or tracks stretching
to the room a deer
wakes into.

Today

A drive to another city.
Getting lost in a forest.
Your stillness
in the grass.
And, maybe
something
else? Like
the sumac
in your
hair.

left

And later when I photographed you at the water,
when on the rocks the wind came for your blouse,
I pictured the idea of a soul hewed
in the pliocene bodies of cormorants alight
on the water image of those distant rocks —
too many shadows to know for certain
whether they were returning, or instead
vanishing into the skin of our memory, like a
pictograph sinking into the face of a stone, or
the fading bruises on your breasts my mouth left.

– ph

i

I wonder how others feel love.
Her, under that streetlamp,
fallen snow in black hair, like an infinitesimal
constellation of wounds, then tears, like bright new worlds?
And, me, unmoving,
the sidewalk scouring her into spirit,
her bootprints quitting the path?
Do others wonder, when the day scissors flesh
into shadows, that hers swims too darkly to be unskinned,
or is a scrap of soul blind as an eclipse.
Like me, do they wear, threadbare
with regret, the coat of that night sewn
by moths of its snowy incandescence?

Weather Report

Now that you are happy
I would have thought the weather here
in Madawaska would’ve changed.
And I wonder if you wonder now
what a waste living can be,
the clouds only landing
to take us up into rain.
But, you know, I almost believe you; perhaps,
it’s just the weather, undecided,
that says otherwise, its backtracking,
its circling, taking one more look
for the thunder we may or may not
have heard.

Your life

never went anywhere.
It stayed with you,
like that poem you lost about your father
that you wrote in ’86
about the bicycle leaning against
the downspout in the rain.

Driving Away

When I try to replace you with
another thought,
you say to me,
you could try being
that small fox I saw this morning,
hurtling from the woods.
Then, when I notice,
through the gravel smoke,
that you’ve spotted me again,
I’d ricochet back
into the forest
of your mind.

Wyndham

Except for the schedule
left open at pages 18 and 19
on the table by the window
beside Wyndham Street where
the train station sits,
I’m the real ghost here. So,
don’t believe anything else
you hear, I’m the ghost sitting
in one of the
two empty chairs
facing each other
(their wooden stares, haha)
looking out the window
at the life, as it were,
as if I were on a train returning
to the place that
took me away.