"The Globe and Mail's Review asked some of Canada's finest poets to provide us with new work as a holiday gift to our readers." ("A Christmas Feast for the Soul," 23 December 1999.)
Here, cowering on the cusp of obliteration,
these shards, these shreds, those rags of grace
sloughed in the balance, that Mona Lisa landscape
where Dali scrapes a corner of the sky
and Hopper hangs a garish string of Romeo lights
and you shrink and huddle and dream Cézanne?
Then turn, turn here,
where the mass
will always haunt you.
Consider that haven so fragile its squalls wrap their strands
of filigreed death encircling postcard sailboats tethered
to bones of light. There, heaved and scattered artefacts
roil upon a sea of catastrophe glittering with greed.
Solitude by the numbers bound by the driven score
palpable and blunt and breathe goddamn it breathe
(and you know the limits of these lines erupting
in that ruinous avalanche of crimson departure).
And, yes, it reveals a meticulous edge achingly familar
with the brutal carnage pooling in the inexpressibly blue contours
of arteries or tributaries leading to your own personal Iphigenia,
ravished in such white fate: The temple of attrition;
the arresting smear of blood spilled for nothing special.
Those memories, the sky a subtle prison, a vague promise
recalling a spectral figure wholly absorbed in the stunning
exactitude of silence when grief yields to the siren of horror.
Now, late in the day, hesitating in that wild longing,
the one you know intimately, its altar indelible passage,
its attenuated austerity shrieking through your veins —
paralysed and anaesthetic, desensitised and consumed —
with the debris of a life grimly random. Parvum parva decent,
plunging headlong into a future fraught with standstill,
cut deep — good girl — now.
That's the story.
You're banished from it.
© 1999-2008 Judith Fitzgerald.
All Rights Reserved.