Blind

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Blind

Warmth in a color,
with heat visible to the touch
and shocking pink a shock
to seeking fingers,
not one that you and I,
gifted with sight,
would ever understand.

Blindfolded, they wheel me
round and round the garden
in my teddy bear reality.
Gravel scrunches beneath
the wheels and I am flooded
with the inability to see, to know,
to be sure of the shadows
that are no longer there.

The ones who push me
talk and tell but cannot show.
How could they hold a rainbow
before my eyes or let me hear
the northern lights crackle the sky,
their visible Niagara a curtain
of fairy lights dancing up and down?

And those glorious organ notes
quivering the body, angel voices rising,
falling, grasping at my eye-
lashes, peeling my eye-lids apart.

Song of songs and the singer
deaf to his own sublimity,
oh dealer of cards, fingerless
pianist, bold dancer prancing
on your amputated stumps.

Comment: Raw poem, written for Gwen Martin who opened my eyes to the fact that blind people can perceive color through their finger-tips.

Four Geese

15 May 2002 Pre-Rimouski 020

Four Geese

Early this morning,
high above the car
in the sky’s giant highway,
four geese flew overhead
honking.

 A welcome sign of spring,
they reminded me of summer sunshine
as they framed themselves
for a moment in the moon roof.

“Remember those happy days,”
they seemed to cry
as they carved their sky path
far above my head.

 I remembered a moonless night
with the admiral out ahead
steering by the stars
and, seemingly sightless,
the great flock following.

That night
I pinpointed their calls
leaning back, looking up,
straining my neck,
and for a moment
there were no stars,
just a feathered blackness
shutting out the Big Dipper
as it hung in the sky
above the river St. John.

 At Montmagny,
on the St. Lawrence River,
the great white geese
will soon be gathering.

White on their arrival
they will drift like snow
and accumulate on the land.

 Alban angels,
harbingers of spring,
guardians of summer’s perfection.,
they too will blotting out the sky
and leaving me breathless,
overwhelmed
by my many memories.

 

 

Red Star

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Red Star

“Fly me to that red star,
the one outside the window.”
Teddy’s voice droned
its mosquito in my ear,
but made no sense.

“I’ll try,” Owl said.
I hadn’t noticed him there,
snuggled in beside me.

“That’s not a star,” I said.
“It’s a planet, Mars.
It’s in conjunction with Venus,
that other bright blob.”

Owl flapped his wings
and flew out of the window.
Up and up he went
until he faded out of sight.

“He’s gone,” said Teddy.
“He’ll never come back.”

But return he did and
“A star too far,” he said,
as he pulled up the blankets
and snuggled into bed.

“It’s not a star,” I said,
but my words were ignored
by the snores emerging from
two nodding, sleepy heads.

Brandy Cove

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Brandy Cove

for my cousin
Frances
who lives in
Australia

I remember helping our nana
climb the steep slope
from the beach to the headland.

“It’s easy, nana,” I said. “Look!”
I leaped from tussock to tussock,
up the path, each patch of grass
a stepping stone leading me upwards.

She stood there, below me,
breathing hard, her left hand
held against her chest,
just beneath her heart.

“I’m catching my breath,”
she said, panting.

I ran up and down, then held out
my hand to help her.

It was so long ago.
Who now will hold out
her hand to help me
as I too age and grow
slow?

Snowy Day

 

Bleak Mid-winter
from
All About Angels

The reverse side of a tapestry this fly-netting,
snow plugging its tiny squares,
clotting with whiteness the loopholes
where snippets of light sneak through.

Black and white this landscape,
its colorless contours a throwback
to earlier days when dark and light
and black and white held sway.

Snow piled on snow.
The bird-feeder buried and buried too
the lamps that can no longer shine
beneath their cloak of snow.

The front porch contemplates a sea of white,
wave after wave cresting whitecaps,
casting a snow coat over trees
with snow-filled nests standing
shoulder-deep in the drifts

while a slow wind whistles
and high and dry in the sky above
the sun is a pale, thin penny
drifting through ragged clouds
that threaten to bring more snow.

Snowy Day
for
Meg Sorick

who misses the snow
and offered to come and dig us out.

1. View from office window with IMac and pencils.

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2. Bird feeders and the mountain ash from kitchen window.

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2a Same scene, two hours later

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2b Same scene, another hour later

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3. Back porch, bird table, and picnic table from living room.

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3b Same scene, two hours later

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4. Cat’s eye view of snow from Princess Squiffy’s vantage point.

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4a Same scene, two hours later

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5. Princess Squiffy turns her back on the snow and seeks an alternate reality

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6. We finished with 63 cms of snow (25 inches), plus drifting of course. Almost shoulder high in places. Other snowfalls in the province ranged from 70-80-90-100 cms. All in all, we were lucky. A wonderful neighbor came and helped us dig / plow ourselves out earlier this evening, and now we can get to the road and our driveway is snow free. Paul: thank you  so very much.

Miracle at Lourdes

 

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Miracle at Lourdes

Ed walked through Heathrow Airport. It took him ninety minutes to go from one terminal (Madrid) to the next (Montreal). The black strips on his Achilles tendon held his leg together. He limped a little, towards the end, but the Spanish osteopath had done a good job on his damaged leg. He made it to his next flight with ease.

Thirty years ago Ed had visited Lourdes. It wasn’t a pilgrimage. He was passing by and took a side trip on the way through. He watched old ladies, on their knees, rosaries in their hands, ascend the Via Crucis towards the cross at the top of the man-made hill. Then he went into the sanctuary. He stood there whole, unhurt, curious. A wave of hatred rose up from those who sat in wheelchairs or kneeled at the altar, praying, hoping for healing to descend. Ed needed no healing. He was whole and complete. Ed made the sign of the cross, bobbed his head before the high altar, and left.

Next day, a Saturday, Ed sat in a café, somewhere, downtown, in Lourdes, and he asked for a cup of coffee. An enormous barman towered over his customer, a stark rock on the sea shore, and showered the table with his displeasure. He was big and antagonistic. Ed sipped at his coffee. Then, after a moment or two of thought, he went to the bar.

“Excuse me.” No response. Ed tried again. “Excuse me … can you help?”

“What?” The barman flicked the glasses beneath the counter with his cloth. He refused to look up. An ice block, he froze Ed out.

“Uh, I’m a stranger here. A foreigner. Could you help me … ?”

“What?” the man mountain flicked at the glasses and turned his broad bluff shoulders to meet Ed’s face.

“I’m Welsh,” Ed said. “Gallois. Du Pays de Galles. I would like to see a rugby game tomorrow. Could you tell me where I might go to see a good one?”

“Welsh? Les petits diables rouges?  Rugby?” The barman straightened up and snorted. “Why didn’t you say so?”

He took a deep breath and gave Ed an analysis of every game taking place next day in the region. Then, raising his shoulders and giving Ed a beaming smile, he said, “Jean, le petit Gachassin.”

Ed had seen Gachassin play for France, against Wales, in Cardiff, but he had lost track of him. Le petit Jean had gone to Bagnères-de-Bigorre when they were in the third division, had seen them rise through the second division, and now they were playing their first game in the French first division against Mont-de-Marsan.

“And they have Roland Bertranne,” the big man said. “A future colossus for France. Go to Bagnères-de-Bigorre and watch them play.”

Ed did. It poured with rain. He got soaked. But he saw some scintillating rugby.

Thirty years after that visit to Lourdes, Ed took the train from Avila to Madrid. He planned to spend the night in a hotel and catch the early morning flight first to London and then to Montreal. There was only one problem. He had injured his Achilles tendon and could hardly walk.

The hotel Ed had chosen sported a notice on the reception desk. Massage Service Available. Ed thought about it for a long time. No, he didn’t call for call girls when he traveled. Nor call boys. Massage service: what did it mean? Ed took the plunge, phoned, and made an appointment.

Half an hour later: a knock on the door.

Ed opened it.

“I’m the osteopath. You called?” A handsome young man stood there, his eyebrows raised.

“Yes,” Ed said. “I did. Uh, um …” his face turned red. “Er, you’re not gay, are you?”

“No,” the osteopath said. “Are you?”

“No,” Ed said.

“Thank God,” the osteopath smiled. “I’ve had six requests from gays today. I don’t do that thing.”

“Nor me,” Ed said. “Come in.”

The osteopath entered the room set up his folding bed, and helped Ed on to it. Then he examined him, slowly and carefully. They spoke Spanish at first and then, in a moment of illumination, the osteopath told Ed how, for two years, he had been the physiotherapist for the rugby team at Bagnères-de-Bigorre. Then they spoke in French and ran the rule over their heroes, le petit Jean Gachassin and Roland Bertranne.

The osteopath treated Ed for an hour and a half and charged him for an hour.

Next day, Ed walked through Heathrow Airport, a long, long walk and suffered no pain.

What could Ed say? Serendipity? The good finding the good?

Finally he put it all together and found a phrase for it: the Miracle at Lourdes.

 

Sanctuary

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Sanctuary

We thought for a moment that, yes, we
were angels and yes, we were dancing
together on a pinhead with so many other
angels, and all of us as bright as butterflies
spreading our wings with their peacock eyes
radiant with joy and tears sparkling in time
to the celestial music that wandered up
and down inscrutable scales that bonded
the universe and set planets and spheres
spell-bound in that magic moment …

… and I still feel that pulsing in my head,
that swept-up, heart-stopping sensation
when the heavens opened and the eternal
choir raised us up from the earth, all earth
-bound connections severed and all of us
held safe in the palm of an Almighty hand.