Photo by rob mclennan
The Linden Lea transitions,
One cannot, now, be a love poet. Now one can only be a desire poet.
– Robert Kroetsch, The Hornbooks of Rita K
A warm hand forces its way awake. Sand creeps sun, sun. Crescendos. Could you imagine?
Each day makes us different. We hope for improvement.
It is not for us, to let the narrative judge.
The mathematical symbol, tattooed on your shoulder-blade, I place
the shape of my mouth. It is already solved. It was my turn to walk the dog.
I was seeking a trail of responses.
Time is something, nothing. We can’t catch a hold.
The hill rolls south, down, over Beechwood. A study in differences. A question
of speaking. A highrise.
The green dress you wore as a nightgown, memorable for what left, exposed.
This is the story I should be imagining.
There was the cardinal, once, in your mother’s backyard.
I am attempting a shape in which form becomes formless.
How is it we arrive? It is always a question of departure.
We are missing a tree. The storm came and took it.
A quick edit, made by the wind.
Archibald Lampman knew, everybody’s a critic. He wrote out his Kate,
and we listened, songs for the next century.
The mail strike has ended. It feels like a lifetime.
On the corner, The Scone Witch, insists on the Beatles. Acrylic portrait,
John Lennon and Santa Claus.
Some stories you can’t invent. I take my coffee, black.
Four months earlier, fire. Toxic smoke rippled. Paint-thinner, coated the landscape.
It was not the hearing itself. It was the eyes.
Remains of the fire, an outline. The Hardware Store. Plastic barrier,
a fluttering yellow line.
Lindenlea history, a garnish of parkland, of large family homes.
Tennis courts, stapling greenery.
The mailman descends. I forget postage stamps. They are foreign documents
I no longer recall, marked Canadian Maple Leaf.
Thomas Adams, shaping a garden. The size of New York.
The absent back fence. It went with the tree. The neighbours stroll,
trailing barbeque smoke.
As tongue, rediscovers the cavity. A compulsion.
Adrift, I make notes. I read the newspaper.
A Lindenlea housesit. A week, up to Canada Day. What once called Dominion.
The fifth time in as many months. In you, the poem, a study of phrases,
peppercorned with fresh fruit.
The wind is too quiet to notice. Yellow Submarine, skips.
I return for the mail. I picture a waterfall.
After the thunderstorm, a break where the sun. A sword through clouds,
through the leaves. You, out for dinner with your brother.
You should know, I finished the wine. There was barely a glass.
I planned to make you a salad, of tumbling light.
I sprinkle Dubliner cheese, ham, into the pan
across scrambled eggs. Construction crew rebuilds the fence,
taking regular breaks.
You called this a sad poem. Perhaps, reflecting on where
the sadness went. What steps into the absence. I am
hesitant, here, of transitions.
Rain delays, a small, fragrant ease.
Silence, the washing machine. I find the fuse switches,
and flick. It comes back to life.
The poem, a study of language, constructed into phrases.
Opening the refrigerator, where you’d placed strawberries, blueberries, the seductive curve
of a lemon.
The rain, cues. An ongoing hush.
“The Linden Tea transitions” was originally published in Fence Magazine (Albany NY), Volume 15, No. 2 (Winter 2012-13): pp: 137-140.