Thursday, November 1, 2007

Carl Leggo


just before she left,
she cut gashes
in all my books
with a surgeon’s penchant
for deciphering messages
knotted under the surface,
pushed the X-Acto knife in,
the blade as sharp
as a hopeless heart


my mother-in-law is old
and her memory is a claw
that cannot hold the slippery edge
of any fact, name, event, or story
that has dropped into the past
she tells you the story she told you
minutes ago, is unhappy when you
remind her she just told the story
she can’t remember she just drank
a cup of tea, can’t remember, but
remembers she can’t remember
she analyzes the nutritional facts
on food, reports the sugar content
with alarm, but craves dessert,
loves chocolate chip cookies
from Dominion Superstore
bent over Search-a-Word
she scrutinizes her puzzle book,
circles and scratches words
amidst a maze of letters
like a monastic scribe intent
on transcribing sacred words
she can make no sense of my poems
as I can make no sense of hers


My mother always changed
the pictures in the frames
in the living room
to reflect the seasons
like she was eager
to keep the inside and outside
in moon-struck balance.
No summer scenes
in winter, too unsettling, just
not done. Each season was
marked with new pictures from
Chatelaine or The Star Weekly,
cut to fit the precise frames,
always painted to match
the changing pastels
of the living room.
Everything had to match.
She loved beautiful possibilities,
always eager for the stories
in magazines, even if impossible

Light Vibrates

ducks, keen for forage,
swim with faint hope
in the still slough
near Steveston,
and ripples of salt water
cast light and shadow
in the lean winter branches
of an alder tree, refracted
scratches of silver like capelin
roll and spawn on John’s Beach
faraway in the North Atlantic,
a world both distant and close,
though nothing is what it seems
since light writes texts in
collaborative imagination
with readers who stop long
enough to see how shapes
always seep outside
the lines of the scribbler’s
page and best intentions


Will will die soon (even Bob Hope
died finally) and no one will
know Will is gone, not for some
days, at least, since his only daughter
will never spend a dime even
to connect with Will, will let him
call the first day of each long month
as he has done for years and years
and will still do so until he dies,
and if lucky, he will die close
to a month’s end, or he will lie
alone too long with just his wife’s
ghost to hold him till his daughter
hears his silence after a long wait
for the will that Will will leave
so she can spend the millions
he scraped together with a miser’s
bent will, the will Will lived
with no apparent purpose beyond
an addict’s crazed angry asceticism

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