A Wedding – May 1994

Remember —

the room is an arm
of glass

and you are protected
at the light
of its elbow.

Inside
the flesh of its walls,
music beats,
a heart of memory.

Outside,
a snake of iron
steps over from
vision to experience.

This is a day
and night
of newness,

the water threads
of belief
linking us all
to you.

The Squirrels of Mont-Royal

Shouldn’t they be sleeping,
fat, full and warm
in the splintered armour
of a skeleton tree?
Such thin-boned feet
don’t seem right
for mountain snow.

They shiver in the granite cold,
imagining the luxuriant tails
that flair out blind
behind them
creeping forward
to cover rat bodies.

The snow
steals heat,
blanketing bodies
in its own liquid
then hardening
like a spider’s
cocoon.

In the motion
that might save them,
they stop suddenly,
stand straight and respectable
on scrawny hind-legs,
extend webbed bones
for whatever I can spare.

Maybe they should have planned
for the worst:
this winter of full-body ice
not even a flame could penetrate —
but how do you plan
for a winter such as this one?

A winter coming
just the same.

When You Find Him

When you find him,
remember

the nights you wondered,

the days you hoped and
were disappointed,

the evenings you argued with
the disbelieving.

When you find him,
watch the muscular flowers
take from the daylight,
the branches
bend low to your touch.

When you find him,
Breathe deeply,
As a victor breathes:

believing and unconcerned,
accepting the gentle tingle
of proven instinct,
satisfied impulse.

When he finds you,
Tell him I told you so.

[for Emma Shield, 1996]