Memories of Geoff
Tonight I walked alone in the cold October night
through the forest.
And I thought of you,
remembering today would have been your 35th birthday.
And I remembered
walking with you through these same woods on a Halloween night
when you were ten,
holding our tin cans, hung with thin wire, lit with candles.
We’d used nails to poke holes in them and called them bugs,
and they cast bouncing starlight on the trails in the dark woods.
And you at 10 years old were transfixed by them
on that damp October night.
And we were enchanted by the light from our bugs
and laughed and pretended to be scared,
and took for granted our love and mother-son communion
and thought of nothing else.
* * *
That night you first played the pipes
on the deck at my house on the beach,
the full moon was high over Bowen Island
and a mist lingered over the channel
on that secret November night.
I watched shyly through the mullioned windows as
you squeezed the bag under your arm,
your breath filling her with life.
Then, like cradling a swan in your arms,
you fingered the chanter,
her long neck
held elegantly in your hands
as the haunting notes of Dark Isle
drifted across the water.
* * *
A Poem for You
And because you love me
you walked into a dirty, wet November night
to find my son on the steep bluff
to bring him back to our house
to bring him back to his senses (for awhile).
You took a flashlight
and wore enough clothes to share with him
when you found him.
And you both arrived safely to the back door
of our house on Keats,
he wearing your wet weather outer garments
against his naked skin,
you wearing your jeans and shirt.
You did that for me.
Or did you do that for Geoff?
It doesn’t matter.
You did it for all of us.
* * *
I grouted and tiled the whole bathroom myself
And fixed that damned leak on the roof.
Then I painted and patched where the water had stained,
of my strong back, this is all proof.
I took the kids on a camping trip,
pitched the tent and laid on the food.
I baited the hooks and gutted the fish
before gathering the campfire wood.
I can handle it all when it’s thrown in my way
and know there’s really nothing I can’t do,
nothing too much for this old girl,
from morning till all the way through.
You know I don’t need you to help with the work,
fix the plumbing and put oil in my car.
But I need you to soften my calluses
and tell me I’m your best love so far.
* * *
In the Dream
The image in the dream of the baby’s head
comes to me again.
Attached to nothing.
separating the head
the thought centre from the body.
Body of literature
body of water
some other body’s body.
In the ditch a pale head
pale grey matter
putting too much thought and reason
delving into the unknown.
sitting in a ditch
like an egg
thread-like veins showing through velum skin
Sitting in a ditch
Things are not clear.
A child disembodied
separated from the essential part
The essential doesn’t exist
in the physical.
Bringing things to a base level.
or doesn’t matter.
living on after the physical is gone.
the shell is all that remains
in the ditch
in the dirty
and the baby’s head.
But the essence is gone.
That which can’t be seen is gone.
protecting the soft centre
soft and warm
folded into itself
like a snail
or a sea anemone
keeping everything close
and tucked in.
* * *
A Keats Morning
Sheets of rain
slant against a colourless sky
and falling, swooping seagulls
screech their anguish
like Trojan women,
while thin, tired waves lap at
A sentinel of dark firs,
branches black and heavy
with the effort of holding
as sea otters, heads bent low,
slither over ancient weathered logs,
and a lone border collie
races along the sand,
trying to herd the waves.