Poetry

I don’t remember much
of the train, but I remember William

who gave me his engraved
penknife at the station

When I finish my first book,
I wonder who'll blurb the
unsubstantiated blows
my father landed
upside my head.
“An unforgettable voice
in fiction.”

When I finally told you that my first boyfriend
raped me, I was worried you would be mad

I’ve heard there is a room where hooded
women enter, writing dates on the wall
with the torn edge of their finger. I’ve heard
you can cipher the numbers to bodies, to
the graceless edge of some men’s beds. Is

Fear the caging of birds. Strangled and brown.
Moving here was like crossing a river,
debriefings, scaling back. Clay pots clogged,
awkward like an ingrown hair, browning down
in the sun. Staring at walls draws a crowd,
like a hardened nipple, a tear-streaked thigh.

I shed my pelt on the shoreline,
leaving the warmth of the
glossy grey coat to shiver
and head for land.

My mother in a rental van
idling in the Phoenix Airport parkade.
She does a word search, finds “tongue” “bitter”
“cochlea” lets a ballpoint pen tell her of her own
body. I tap the van window, see her face
for the first time in months. It’s been too hot,

The first time, you walk into the night and think,
This January wind is like death. Then you laugh at
the idea that wind can kill
in a city where asphalt is streaked with long
stripes of blood or shit or mud.

he traces the tattoo
of Africa on my back
tells me how he wants
to go back to Sierra Leone

i am the flower that grows out of the cliffside
overhanging the lake on thin soil
birthed by lichen that digested rocks
that i might bloom in her body

We were born beneath the water
in the darkest depths of the lake
We rise, our hooves rumbling
spewing lake water, muzzles dripping

every treasure chest breathes heavy,
every black pearl understands
the uncomfortable whole

a system of lines is then discovered
by light, filtering through trees,
through trees whose branches discover
lines along the moss in light

In the backseat of a mustang you looked so much
like a movie. The sleeves of your shirt cut off
and gas station glasses. Open beer and the wind
forgiving nothing. I was almost myself, watching
road signs disappear and leaning from the window,
dress billowing. Three cows and a horse, the car

Where are the words I devoured
The English hoard I treasured
inside this body soon to be

who secretly thrilled to Ursula
who shared her envy
of that underwater voice
and wanted nothing more

Not whole, the way we know them now, but fragmentary
hollow skeletals that seal the human or reveal
what it once was. Breath stolen by volcanic gas
and corpses dressed in ashes. An imprint of dust
upon the body, or the body onto dust. Excavators filled
the distance between bone and absent skin with plaster,
made flesh-form evident: a naked relic for collection and display.

Our 2015 Poetry Contest Honourable Mention, judged by Jen Currin.

By all the gods I don’t know why the hell
I come to these things passed defences
farewell parties publications showers house-
swarmings

The pages you have yet to write are flagged and fluorescent, post-it pennants waving for another town’s fiesta.

Pages

Currently on Newsstands

  • Migration Cover
    Room 40.3, Migration
    Edited by Nav Nagra

    In this issue:

    Rasha Abdulhadi, Juliane Okot Bitek, Ariane Both, Aimee Henny Brown, Leonarda Carranza, Rose-Anne Chabot, Karla Comanda, Marita Dachsel, Stacy Gardner, Branwyn Holroyd, Sandeep Johal, Sharon Kirsch, Katherine Koller, Lydia Kwa, Emily McKibbon, Amanda Merpaw, Shelley Marie Motz, Dorothy Nielsen, Rita O’Grady, Kimberly Peterson, Claire Polders, Ramna Safeer, Nilofar Shidmehr, Arielle Spence, Chanda Stallman, Catherine J. Stewart, Florence Treadwell, Sarah Wolfson, Annie Wong

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