Girl with the Porcelain Doll (Written April 19)

Girl with the Porcelain Doll


It is not love you will find

As you enter in here, with

Your porcelain doll and your mind


Of a six-year-old. No one doubts

She adores you, with her big, dark eyes,

As faithful as sunrise, and as brief.


But she’s meek as a dried leaf

And no answer to the grief

That engulfs you. It is not love


You will find, not a bright-tongued

Bird, but the coo of a mourning dove,

And the flight of a sparrow.


Love lies elsewhere, and you

Must follow, though the path is narrow,

You and your porcelain doll.


Love is the voice that answers the silence.

Love is the terror that delights and appalls.

Love is the promise that never did run smooth.

Dead Man at the Gate (Written April 18)

Dead Man at the Gate


All about them the cold, familiar wind

And the sound of crows calling back

And forth, announcing their approach.


Plastic bottles, paper bags, styrofoam

Cups, and old torn newspapers float

In the ditch by the side of the road.


The gate ahead has been opened, wide

Enough for one of them to pass through.

It’s been a year to the day since he died,


And it’s time to let him go, to find

His rest. They stop some distance shy

Of the gate and embrace. They will


Miss each other, more than they know.

His brother, older but not wiser, still

Does not want him to go. The dead man


Walks through the gate, onto the path

Of fine, white gravel. Very quietly, he stands

There, looking back. His brother salutes.

Immutable Landscape (Written April 17)

Immutable Landscape


This calm immutable landscape

Draws me in, just as

It draws the river that runs


Through it. The mutable river

Is part of the immutable

Landscape and imparts


Force and fascination, change

And stasis, in equal parts.

I am part of the always


Changing, always the same

Landscape. As I am part of it,

It is part of me.


I am calm and immutable,

And a cold river

Runs through me to the sea.

Spies in the House of Love (Written April 16)

Spies in the House of Love


See those two puzzled guys in the back there?

I wonder who they are, do you know?

All they do is stand there and stare.


The tall one came up on the porch last week,

And I tell you, he gave me a scare,

The way he looked at me.


The short one, if I’m not mistaken,

Is just out of jail. I could be wrong, I could be

Very wrong, but look how he twiddles his thumbs.


I get nervous just thinking about it.

It’s hard to get anything done, with bums

Like that hanging around.


What is it they want, anyway?

If I hear one more sound

Out of them, I think I’ll scream.

Remembered Death (Written April15)

Remembered Death


How well she remembered it,

The death of her husband’s first wife,

And how much she resented it.


Not the death itself, that was none

Of her business, but the degree

To which it affected him.


They’d been divorced twenty years,

So why was he still so attached

To her? There were the children


They’d had together, but it was

More than that. He felt something

Go out of his life, something


Vital. Then what was she

To him? If she was not everything

To him, what was she? A stopgap?


How long did he expect her

To wait, in limbo? She was patient,

But not endlessly patient.


He would have to decide where

His allegiances lay, whom he loved

And whom he only thought he loved.

Spring in the Maritimes (Written April 14)

Spring in the Maritimes


The leaves look even greener

When they are wet, and I love

To see that color set


Against the white of the snow,

As it slowly melts, like a bad debt.

Snowdrops, crocuses, and the tips of tulips


Light up the soggy, half-frozen

Earth, which is still littered

With broken twigs, matted leaves,


And bird feathers from the harsh

Winter. The bleeding heart weaves

A delicate pattern on the wall


Under the window, and though the parsley

And the basil have died, the tall

lemon grass miraculously survives,


Along with the chives, the sage,

And the unnamed green plant that thrives

In its bed of black earth.

She Promised Me (Written April 13)

She Promised Me


She promised me that she wouldn’t

Throw anything. The only person

You’ll hurt is yourself, I said.


You remember what happened

Last time. But she was fed

Up and thought everyone was lying


To her, including me. What

Could I say? I was only trying

To do what I could to keep


Her out of trouble. I hated

To think of her in the deep

Freeze, yet again, forced to take


Whatever the newest pill might be.

For several years she’d been able to shake

The demons from her back, then some wise


Man decided to take down her meds

A notch and presto, the guy’s

Not such a genius, and everything


Goes haywire and she’s back where

She was in the beginning, with nothing

To look forward to but heartache.

Fusty Old Muttering Man (Written April 12)

Fusty Old Muttering Man


I loved that fusty old

Muttering man, with his great

Head of silken white hair,


And his storehouse of knowledge,

which he was always happy to share,

But which now for the most part


Is lost forever, thanks to a stroke

Two and a half years ago, the start

Of his present steady decline.


He was never an easy man

To talk with, because he was inclined

To ignore whatever I might have to say,


He was so wrapped up in

Himself. But today, if we stray

Too far, no matter how hard he might try,


He cannot find the words that he

Wants. What good does it do to cry

For him? Is he not already gone?

Absence (Written April 11)



She began to slip away every chance

She got, into her parents’ bedroom,

Where she would sit in the chair


By the window for hours,

And do nothing but stare

At the patterns the sun made


On the wall or on her mother’s

Clothes that had been laid

On the bed or on the floor,


And smell the faint odor

Of her mother’s perfume. More

And more often she was alone


In the house, with her father

Gone and her mother’s bone

Cancer keeping her away,


In another city, in hospital,

Where she was being treated,

And kept alive, but barely.


Marta, as she let the truth

Penetrate her brain, rarely

Complained. She found


That she could live with

Absence, which made her feel

Strong, and ready for what comes after.

Her New Life (Written April 10)

Her New Life


Across the blackness of a farmer’s

Barren, unploughed field she can see

The lights of the city for the first time.


Her long journey is coming to an end.

Her new life, like a flower from dirt,

Is about to begin. She had so much


To break free from, and so few

Resources. She went through such

Hardship, such pain, with the death


Of her mother, the loss of her lover,

And the kind of job that sucks the breath

Right out of you, it’s no wonder she


Vanished from sight. What she sought,

A rupture with the past, was not a plea

For help, but a wish to find her own way.


For years she kept to the countryside,

Making few friends, hiding in barns,

Until one day she decided to live again.