Lost Angel

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Lost Angel

One day she was there,
the next day she was not.

She slipped through our fingers
like water or fine sand,
here one day
and gone the next

We looked away for a moment,
and when we looked back
she had disappeared.

The wind whispers secrets
that are multiplied
by grass tongues
wagging on deserted dunes.

The wind thinks she left us
to join the children
who play hide and seek
on empty September beaches.

“Hush now,” says the wind,
“if you make a sound
the children will know you are here.

They will slide through clefts in the rocks
and hide in silence, waiting
until you too have disappeared.”

Comment: Another Golden Oldie, this one from my book All About Angels. I wrote All about angels in homage to Rafael Alberti’s book, Sobre los angeles, one of my favorite poetry books in Spanish. My angels are not Alberti’s angels. How could they be when his angels are Spanish and mine are Welsh and Canadian? Do you really  believe in angels, you ask. Well, you’ll never know, because I’ll never tell you. That said, I did write a book about them.

Scratch Pen

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Scratch Pen

This old fashioned
scratch pen,
post office pen
with its pointed nib:
a mindless spider
weaving its web
of fine-spun words.

I dip the pen
into emerald ink
and my fingers
turn green with envy
as the nib sails on,
its pea-green boat
laden with meanings
that will never
arrive on shore.

Lost in life’s
traffic jam
of things to do,
I miss the mystery:

star-crossed words,
an empty ocean,
this one dip pen
scratching on,
while I dither
like a mother hen
checking her chicks.

Limpet

 

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Limpet

… like a limpet at the sea side
she clings to her inner rock
as the incoming tide
causes waters to rise,
threatening
to sweep her away.

A wind charges
over the bay,
brings a wave-surge,
white water, urgent,
crashing against rocks.

Rock-face
showered and shocked,
the little limpet
clinging on,
knowing that this
is the way
limpets survive,
from day to day,
from generation
to generation.

 

Old Man

15 May 2002 Pre-Rimouski 109

Old Man

An ancient mariner lives in my brain.
Many seas has he sailed, seen many things.
A knapsack of memories, a snail shell
on his back, weighs him down.

His life: a broken record
on an unstable turntable.

He stops people in the street,
tells again the story of his ship,
trapped in the doldrums
where winds no longer blew.

Ghost days weight heavy.
Does he wait for the black patch
carved from the bible
to summon him home?

Photo: The Museum for the shipwreck of the  Empress of Ireland, Pointe-au-Pere, Quebec. The Empress sank off Ste. Luce-sur-mer on 29 May 1914.

Backstreets

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Backstreets

You go from the beaches turn away from the waters
and walk with your warder through this catholic prison,
through the streets of this city where innocents die
and the guilty confess to pitiless crimes
in hide-bound confessionals of dark white-washed churches
that strut in the streets and the heart-breaking alleys
with washing at windows and black widows waving
as you consciously wander through past sins and problems
forgetting remembering the squares with their fountains
with their saints and their statues in cold heartless marble,
with swords without edges and tongues sharp as grass
that cuts you with silence as it slips through your fingers
whilst bitter and bleeding you wander through labyrinths
of meaningless shortcuts leading to churches
and stationary statues that threaten with footsteps
until you come out at last to the light and the sea 

Commentary:
Another Golden Oldie, this time from my poetry book Broken Ghosts, published by Goose Lane (Fredericton, 1986). It dates from time spent in Spain (1969-1971) and recalls walking in tiny seaside towns along the north coast (Cantabria) without being specific to any single place, although Castro Urdiales, Comillas, Laredo, Santander, and Zarauz all conjure up similar visions and memories. A single sentence, the poem can be read in one breathless breath.