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Poetry Canadian

Death Becomes Us

by (author) Kristen Wittman

Turnstone Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2021
Canadian, Death, Grief, Bereavement
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2021
    List Price

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Beginning with halcyon days cast in soft light and cool dew, onward through veiled years of diagnosis and environmental damage, Death Becomes Us captures, with masterful grace and restraint, the intensity of absence and the importance of grief. Within the darkest moments of personal and ecological loss, Kristen Wittman's second collection fashions a garden of love poems from memories of soft kisses and falling towers, a broken Eden where pain nurtures tender, blooming petals, and the ceaseless heartbeat of Mother Nature pulses underfoot, bringing forth every new dawn.

About the author

Kristen Wittman was born in Winnipeg and grew up on a farm west of Headingley. She received her law degree from the University of Manitoba and now practises at Taylor McCaffrey LLP in Winnipeg. Her poems have been published in CV2 and Crosswinds Poetry Journal, among others. Death Becomes Us is her second book.

Kristen Wittman's profile page

Excerpt: Death Becomes Us (by (author) Kristen Wittman)

A Sense of Direction


Compass points


The music rattled
and shook the radio while
a crowd of people talked
I watched your eyes
like laser points
track me down
with a view
to paralyze

my mind wandered
to my afternoon bike ride
gusts of wind from the north
made mountains
of the plains

the sense of your lips
on mine a sudden diversion
of my attention
and I am surprised
with the newness of a world
that senses the gentle
caress of the wind

north is only north
you whispered
when you know
which way the river flows

Meet me at the church at midnight

dancin' in the heat of the
parking lot
dancing in the soft hazy
silvery air
we're dancing to the radio
billie jean from the car
music filters through the
nectar of the night
rumbles over us and bursts through
honeysuckle air

semi trailers bump and bruise
their bulk they bounce
a beat to match the bass
staccato note from the grind of the
distant train
brushes our bodies bumps
me into you
sparks form in the air
heavier now with pockets of cool
fireflies flicker now here now
flashes of light in rhythm
to our dancing
painting the sky
close around us now
air vivified with the earth's sweet
sweat a current thick
we slink and slide inside
the summer's salt and
laugh wave
to the man in the moon
harvest moon
his full flat face
looking down
you laugh
looking up
the man in the moon sheds a lonely tear
lands on my cheek
brush it away
turn up the music
just so
we dance

Break & enter

The door is unlocked
so it can hardly be called a
break & enter

now you are here
sitting on the couch
feet on the table
you drop crumbs

so this is it
staring me in the face
love a presence
in my space

you water the plants
in my absence

your farts linger
in the air
smell of your sweat
tickles my nose
in the bedroom

I open the windows
in the coldest of winter

Sunday in July

I dip my toes into pools
of sun glowing in the grass
shadow serpents
tickle my soles

I tilt my head
into your chest
drift in the space between
the beats of your heart
steady as if
time could be tamed

clouds in the sky
now form into an owl
curl about and now
perhaps mittens or
an ice cream cone
into the breeze

I fall asleep
my head resting just so
your fingers tapping a drum solo
in my hair
kittens' paws whisper
in the flower beds

when I wake
heat has pressed in
the clouds have thinned
sun dapples and dances
swaddles us in
these soft grasses

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