Like Morning Fog Over a Lake (Written June 29)

Like Morning Fog Over a Lake


My mind is a foggy blur,

Unable to see what lies

In front of me, the fear,


The faces, unable to remember

What day it is, or what year.

I’m swamped with words


None of which I can shape

Into any sort of pattern. Birds

Chatter and call back and forth


In voices louder all the time,

And angrier. From out of the north

A cold wind gathers, to break


This spell of hot weather,

And like morning fog over a lake,

My mind begins to clear


To reveal hidden shapes

And images. To be able to hear

The words again, and see


What they mean, is to be given

A lifeline, that saves not just me,

But everyone I meet.

If I Were You (Written June 28)

If I Were You


In those days, when you were young

And healthy, and it seemed you might

Still have a chance to make something


Of yourself, they’d come and get you

At the first sign of trouble. For example,

If you slipped and fell in the bathroom


And the whole house shook, rafters

And all, they’d come and get you.

They wouldn’t let you just lie there.


In those days, when the sun shone

And you could walk out in the fields

And breathe the fresh air and pray


To the birds in the trees, they’d come

And get you, if they thought you’d strayed

Too far and become a danger to yourself


And to others, they’d come and get you.

But nowadays, when you’re of no use

To anyone, what they want is for you to sit


In a corner and stay very quiet, hum

A little tune and twiddle your thumbs,

Stay very quiet and wait for the end to come.

Fevered (Written June 27)



Flaming out as if fevered,

She pounds the keys, her fingers

With a life of their own,


Until she has what she wants,

A first draft, which she knows

She will have to cut back,


The way a worker in wood

Or in stone has to cut back

The material she’s chosen,


To reveal the form that’s been

Hiding there, all along, frozen

In time. Setting aside all other


Desires and obligations, with

Single mindedness, like a mother

Who watches over her child,


She aims to complete this long work,

Which has come to possess her,

And fire her weary brain.

Even On Such a Day (Written June 26)

Even On Such a Day


You sing so deliciously,

With such clarity, in a voice

That’s so sweet, so melodious,


So bright, and so joyful,

With nothing superfluous,

That even on a day like today,


With dark clouds overhead,

A strong north wind at play,

A steady rain beating down,


And our good friend Beth

In hospital, more run-down

Than we’ve seen her in years,


Even on such a day your song

Has a way of easing my fears.

Three soft murmurs, three


Loud chirps, one long whistle,

So well structured, yet so free,

I wonder where you find


The energy to keep on with it,

When other beings, less kind,

Might curse the fate that lies in store.


Or is this your fate, to endlessly

Sing, with more and more

Fervor, of what never can be?

The Sweetness of a Summer’s Evening (Written June 25)

The Sweetness of a Summer’s Evening


In the sweetness of a summer’s evening,

As we loaf on the veranda, talking

Of our plans for the garden, sipping


Our mint juleps, listening to the music

That drifts down from behind city hall,

News of your recent return


To hospital takes us by surprise.

You had seemed so full of energy

Just a week ago, as resilient as last year’s


Irises and last year’s jack-in-the-pulpit.

A cough has lodged deep in your lungs

And nothing you do seems to be able


To shake it. This is not the first time

You’ve come close to the precipice,

But it feels more ominous this time.


For one so full of life, so active

And so bright, it’s hard to find rhyme

Or reason for so cruel an end.

Born to Water (Written June 24)

Born to Water


How can anything born to water

Look so drowned? Your sad eye,

Half closed, sees nothing.


Your mouth, almost a smile,

Is shut forever. Your sleek

Body seems ready to slip


Once more into the deep.

Your snout rests on a rock

Embedded in the muddy banks


Of our river, where the tide

Has washed you. Your hunger

Drove you into the invisible net,


Where you struggled to break free

But failed, as long ago Agamemnon,

Born to water, found himself covered


In a net with no holes for the neck

Or arms, suffered blows to the heart

And lungs, and drowned in his own blood.

Summertime (Written June 23)



The music drowns all other noises,

Including the voices of the people

In the house next door, the crows


In the trees, the motorcycles

On Acadie, the lawn mowers

At the bottom of the street,


The traffic on Champlain,

Where it slows to meet

The entrance to the mall,


The train to Montreal,

The bagpipes from city hall,

And the rustling of the trees


In the backyard, swaying

In the gusty, easterly

Wind. Only the jet


To St. John’s rises above

The music, which has yet

To lose its charm.

All Things Are Like Schools (Written June 22)

All Things Are Like Schools


And all things are like schools

In which I am imprisoned,

Barred from leaving


Until I finish the assignment.

But I’ve neglected to attend

Any of the classes


And so I don’t even know

What the assignment is.

The final exam is scheduled


For next week, and I am

Completely unprepared.

I have no idea


What the teacher has been

Teaching. How long

Have I been going to school,


Trying to get my degree?

For years. Perhaps it’s time

To give it all up.


I’m getting old now,

And I don’t have to continue

To put myself through this.

Summer Solstice (Written June 21)

Summer Solstice


We found a spot near a sapling

Where we could see the fire

And the people around the fire


Holding hands. Clouds hid

The sun in the eastern sky.

A light rain began to fall.


To mark the exact moment

A woman, in a still small

Voice, began to chant.


A man with a feather

Stepped forward with a rant

Against the “greedy ones”


Who would destroy

Our planet. We had run

All the way to get here,


And now we joined in,

Hand in hand, to hear

What we already knew.

Clouds (Written June 20)



Overhead clouds continue their single thought,

Which gathers in intensity as the long day

Grows dark. When I go out, I walk


Facing into the wind, and into the rain

As it begins to fall. Huddled, they talk

Among themselves and agree to the course


They will follow. To give the earth a soaking

Is what they propose, and with enough force

To make a difference. For those creatures


Brave enough, or foolish enough, to be out,

Let them stand tall, screw up their features,

And bear the brunt. On and on they come,


The clouds, like buffalo, over the horizon.

The wind gusts, and the power lines hum.

I am soaked to the skin. What scant


Protection these thin clothes afford,

When the clouds descend. I am part

Of the earth, and the earth part of me.