I carried you inside me,
frozen river carrier.
But I leave ice to bury
the current it will bury.
I leave pines to stand for me,
fly their ancient flags.
I will let stones be stones,
feel their hold release
their million birds of silence,
their shadows lain in snow.
and near night
to die and lay
for it, or
of each place,
to enter earth
to take us
there, the bird
Light is always years away, so when it’s here,
it’s not, is it? Like you, when we’re on 60, going 90,
your windowed reflection glares back at me,
in that typical disappointed way of yours,
while on the other side of the glass, you’re a shaman dream
overlaying the land, skipping from eons of archipelagos
to lakes, kicking past 2nd century tamarack shins,
and untouched, soaring, like your spirit told me it did,
between the rack of a moose, taken down by wolves
on the first day of spring.
Light is always years away,
so when it’s here, it’s not.
When we’re driving
120 kilometres an hour
on Highway 60 through
Algonquin Park, your face
in the window’s reflection looks
back at me while outside
it flips across surfaces of lakes
and tamaracks, and, unhurt,
between the horns of a moose.
This is the same portage. I lift the canoe.
I look for treelight scraping into creeks.
Down there words shimmed for love are damning up
the river and the comets are coming up to breathe.
Trees stand steep as migrants in boats.
Landings are farflung blazes, stepping stones.
Dreams of blisters and the waypoints of addicts.
And seventh and eighth and ninth printings.
The nylon tent takes a breather from darkness.
A caterpillar readies its glow.
She couldn’t have said it better, or worse.
I have passed everything all over, and failed.
The world is run-over and, naturally,
my boots choke on the taste of clay.
The goldenrod lay hunched and sour and in ravines where snow
had softened in alder trees and red deer calves teetered.
He shoulders the canoe on windy cedar, red-waved knuckles
half-holding nails on gunnels, salted dents.
She lugs a pack, macintosh and strawberry, liquorice and wine,
and the trees swoon against her, shivering wingmoss, flour.
Speaking of flowers, white and impalpable, and birchpelts,
and my need to tarnish with beauty every crooked stone.
Do seasons retry, does god hibernate, wrestle with bears, knead snow
into muscles smooth and light with his soft and with shattered claws?