Old Growth

I always felt it was in the looking,
though waiting seems better now
that time has narrowed, like the trail
I’ve been following that goes through
the old growth pine of Shish-Kong Lake.
I’ve been here a thousand times,
but the path keeps changing.
The lake below spins faster than ever.
The trees seem to root into blue above,
as if the water could be desperate for sun.
And the birds climb their branches,
leaping southward, though more and more
I notice the ones that stay
as though, for some reason,
the best way to save their lives
is by not returning.

This is How it Looks When it Looks Like This

From the window, the dogs are barking,
at nothing, really, not a woman crossing the road,
or an animal, a fox, say, that comes in from the fields
by the highway, that sometimes sleeps in the shed
(the mutts always smell it),
with the machinery.

I look a little too long, there’s less and less.
Except for the overgrowth sharpening into
spools of wire and foothold traps,
the cornstalks gutted on the plains,
the cellphone tower possessed by voices,
and the street lamps where each night
crowns of light are crucified, I regard only
their instructions for departures.

So, if I could bark with them, that is what
I would start to see, what I don’t,
runways where things go where they go.
And, I would hope, too,
I’d find a way to chase away the fox
that sneaks back nearly every night,
that’s there, camouflaged by
the invisibility of things that will not expect
to be found.

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.

Upper Hatchet Lake

Parts of my body suffer
in place of
my heart.
This may be because
the heart is not
a muscle,
but a bone that
is constantly broken
and reset.
But, what if we knew,
really, what
the heart was,
its endless echo,
its foreign language of
splitting wood
for a fire on a table
of rock cut in two
by the ice age?
If we knew how
many tries
it had left, the heart,
who would we be
then? Who would we
be if we learned
finally that
the sun, the centre of
the world, was also
96 million miles away from
this stone-hard bone?

My Country

My left shoulder shares its pain
with my elbow. Hand is clutched by
the seismic rumours. It draws the hill in
the maple forest we portaged
that continues, like a camel’s back,
to carry the thirst down
into these days. Like everything at 53,
even the thirst is heavier,
the creek in the valley, as I climb,
years on top of years,
stonier, deeper, nearly bright.

Firework

Say, I love you, in darkness,
and it will mean something different.
Wonder: is awe the spark of friction,
emptiness on flesh?
Ask, how true this is: the heart’s the sting
evaporating in
the atmosphere of the soul.
Then remember, fireflies float
like ash.

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

Lady Evelyn River

I am too close to the fire to write about it,
my fingers are charred with night. Flames light
up the paper, like stars collapsing in my hands.
It’s hopeless, my words are the claws of bears
scraped on trees, or the revolutions of branches
erasing satellites, clutching near galaxies.
Maybe in the morning you will find a way to help me
understand. I promise I will write it all down. In
the morning when you swim up through the glare
with the minnows who become our breathless
constellations we see in light.

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.

Opeongo

Days scratched-out, driving north, its roads
ground down to rivers
of gravel
almost flour,
needing
to bare all,
or, at least, tired
of their distance.

Another sun, re-dealt, high
as god searching
the place of
the misplaced,
an undying faith
that once it’s tamarack-speared
and disembowels into
the Opeongo, we’ll hold
the beauty.

Likewise, they do not hear from me, or
I them, but how can any of us
miss, overlook,
the beautiful and gaudy birds
arriving from the heaven of roadkill,
as if the world must revolve
around returning to what’s gone.