From the eleventh floor at my desk in Toronto,
I watch a band of Cormorants fill a landing place,
like a bracelet on the edge of a small lake.
It’s somewhere near Misabi, where the river,
like its twin, runs alongside the Nastawgan portage
that brings you to Obabika. I could hardly find it this summer
and on the video I’m watching, it’s nearly not there.
I’ve been thinking what somebody said recently,
Cormorants aren’t indigenous here,
so you can you blame them, they’re bloody,
and they’re so strangely beautiful.
I recall the trail again, from the window,
birds peeling away, as I do,
and below, the streets bare things the way fire bares
ruin and the skin of a heart, peeling away, too,
from every mark, like a blaze in a tree
whose writing is always about the path to water.
You were the animal that
trapped them with your eyes.
They killed you for them
but thought you’d try
to live through that.
They skinned alive the desert
for the inland sea.
When they saw you
from the blind,
they stroked your coat to say,
you were not theirs.
how could you understand?
You were a story
they did not tell
You were the tracks
that lost your way to them
that they followed as
they went into the trees
that took them to the river
that you could not cross.
There is no name for that.
There’s no strength that holds happiness.
There’s no promised land of sadness.
The fields are gold with fall,
They are silver with winter.
The car is trailed with the filthy snow that led you here.
You note the windshield paintings,
the ancient figures, antelopes of ice melting into lakes,
Arms of blue rivers white with the harvest of clouds.
There was some mission.
About the mystery, you had come to
an understanding. For instance,
the geese circling forming wonder —
so why stay so long with them into winter?
What was the sound that we made,
if not a cry?
Yes, the windows have needed replacing for years
(she had said to him a thousand times.)
But she left them, their tenuous existence,
half-reflections seeing to her forgetfulness.
She will remember when you’re
elsewhere, though, you’re sure,
how much she spent on the necessities,
like the fence to keep the dogs
from tearing up the riverbank at Christmas,
decorating their bodies with burrs,
and dance lessons for the girls
because, well, she danced once, too.
She’ll find it difficult to date memory,
the algebra of the two-sided gaze, here
minus but also plus back there.
She’ll know it’s been some time, though,
how she’d go to one,
and how opening made her different,
that for a time it changed her life,
feeling something more come in.
A love once blinded me
to see differently,
a blindfolded sight
of warmth and light.
Light, cold rain
Wind-shield wiper swipes
the geese overhead.
It’s nice, now I need
not persuade, nor make believe
The needle will cross over again,
and find north.
When winter’s scrubbed away,
geese will conduct
In this world
the snow falls
in your hair.
How to explain
strands of light,
a body holy as mist.
It dissolves in my hand
It blackens the road.
In it, you weep, a lost world
as it appears.
Her footsteps stand
at the top of the stairs,
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,
in the body of a dead man
that wants to breathe
So for now,
until there are words,
this is how
we shall speak:
we will leave love behind,
it will take us back.
you slept in your car with the heater running.
At noon I wrote something in a coffee shop
and burned my lips.
Like this, let’s say we
Let’s say you drove here, the ice
not so terrible as it looks,
I punch in, “love,”
let Google search for it,
between the lines of cached results
I’ll stay right here, instead,
talk to Dominos,
let Amazon listen in: “this is
who I am, as if
you never new.
Here’s my password, how
can you forget?”