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.

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.

There

There are some things I cannot hope
to touch; these bridges, for instance,
of rain clouds between the other earths,
this river, too, brownly swelling,
like a new root burrowing in the soft air
of a newly wet sun. Meanwhile,
the prayer I make with my fingers
in the damp ends of your hair
on this humid day is not
a poem about love. It could be, though,
sitting next to you, waiting
for it to come any minute,
to touch down,
take hold for the time we’re here,
like this, yes, and like that, the same way rain
from those worlds do.

Campfire

The stick the length of me,
lifted by the beach,
skinned, bleached
by gnaw of weather
and beaver, too,
stripped of younger branches
until the end, an antler now,
almost, as if the body lay just
beyond. Its possible journeys
are what I see now, battles for
the sake of finding one, but landing
on this island anyhow –
which makes it into another thing,
after all, this burning leap
of sudden purpose, like
an antelope perhaps, dancing
for the fire.

Campfire

The stick the length of me,
lifted by the beach,
skinned, bleached
by gnaw of weather
and beaver, too,
stripped of younger branches
until the end, an antler now,
almost, as if the body lay just
beyond. Its possible journeys
are what I see now, battles for
the sake of finding one, but landing
on this island anyhow –
which makes it into another thing,
after all, this burning leap
of sudden purpose, like
an antelope perhaps, dancing
for the fire.