Saturday, 25 December 2010

The Boat House

on stilts. The sixty or so birds that make up
the neighbourhood cannot make holes
in the ice. The house built on the lake
for boats or ducks or otters is now stranded
on dry water, can be reached on foot. Speaking
to each other, the wood cut years ago submits
to the ice that was born yesterday. A train passes
like a wild boar and is swallowed by silence.
On the ice, objects: a toy car, a plug attached
to a cut cable (choked on its copper spew),
a baseball hat embroidered with Toronto’s
clean cut blue jay, and an open-mouthed
video recorder. When we stepped onto the lake
I did not feel it creak or heave. The rock I pitched
jarred like a spade on flint. There were prints, too,
a dance of invisible gulls, the belly-dragging scoop
of a pregnant cat, and, always going towards
the boat house, two upright unknown animals.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Another Poem About a Charley Harper Painting

You cannot blame a child
for wanting to bob stupidly
on a lake in a fibreglass parody
of a boat: it is a right
as inalienable as that
which binds a stick
to its dog. There is a path
that goes around the lake
twice – once each way –
and jetties on the bank
where fish can be pulled
like teeth, at an alarming
rate. The heron looks
at the pink stiff-necked
things with ineffective
mouths, and wonders
how something can be
both driven and directionless.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Myth of the Frost-Bringer

and other child-made myths. Like the redwing
who was once a song thrush but grew so cold
that he lit a fire in his own feathers. The hill
full of them feeding their flames with flame-red
raw-red haws. Winter comes fingers-first, a tense
Russian pianist. An egg cracked and spilling
over the head of the hill. A sense of things
dropped from a table, gobbled by ravening
mouselike underthoughts, little helpers
of Morozko, exiles.

After Charley Harper's 'Blue Jay Bathing'

My irreproachable sense of logic states
that you cannot stand a drinking horn up
unaided, unless you are on soft ground.
Some books are so old that their provenance
is traceable only by smell – here words are subject
to subsidence, a being-shifting that transcends
meaning. Movement is the opposite of semiotics.
To read a book is to know its author, even
if that author is a dinosaur or a kite. I know you.
I know that like a jay there is a kinky blue nurse’s
uniform under the pinkish murk of your outer.
When you peel off your clothes and wash hurriedly
the shower room is like a winter birdbath or your body
is an ancient book (flicked through too fast,
flickering) that shouldn’t get wet but wants to.