Ice River

Tonight, I fell through the ice.
It’s easy to break into light,
splinter into astonishment.
It’s harder as we walk, though,
along Two River Creek,
as you point out
you skated last week
for the first time in your life.
That you fell, and
he pulled you back.
What is there you’re showing me
between the shadows
of our eyes, adjusting mine
to your darkness, to the clouds
chattering under my grey beard
of breath?
We know what loss is –
the excavation of love. But, is this what
I am meant to find when we step
next to each other in silence,
the wet pearls on your face,
for which I once dove,
giving themselves up as rocky stars
brightly fallen from the Black Sea of
your underground river?

McDonnell's Fields

I’m reminded about the togetherness of things
in the way things resemble each other,
breaking apart, so that it’s possible pulling
is in the reaching,
and this often when the world persuades
us to sleep, conceals its darkness traversing
the wind in this old soybean field
that sews its dress for the invisible
to dance in.

I’m reminded,
walking this morning across McDonnell’s Field,
of trees etched naked by thin edges of sun,
calloused soil poised to feel
what I might break next. I’m peering down
the old well the Mennonites dug,
the watery coin of wish
undifferentiated between being dropped,
tossed away.

You’re walking too, the other way,
the wind climbing over dirt
that, like me, will not get caught in you again,
as I get caught up, hoping for the best.
Perhaps this morning your words
will be a simple pail I tug from the earth,
each grasp bringing ache into my arms.

DIY

Remember the Christmas we spent painting the rooms on Beverly Street? I stole Remember the Christmas we spent painting the rooms on Beverly Street? I stole some cheap-ass cans of paint from work; we were broke, and they were going out of business anyway. Looking back, you just wanna forget the number of layers, the heaps of reassurance, you need to persuade decay into white again (don’t you think?) I read on a DIY site that if you paint something once, you’re gonna repaint, and repaint, so try hard, know it takes time. Funny, today I’m beginning to see why, seeing the patches making their way back through the paint from the other side of the wall, like two salt stains between the door and the place where you kept your boots.

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?

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?