About the Author

Catherine Hunter

Poet and novelist Catherine Hunter has published three collections of poetry, Necessary Crimes, Lunar Wake, and Latent Heat (which won the Manitoba Book of the Year Award); three thrillers, Where Shadows Burn, The Dead of Midnight, and Queen of Diamonds (Ravenstone Press); the novella In the First Early Days of My Death; and the spoken word CD Rush Hour (Cyclops Press), which includes a bonus track featuring The Weakerthans. Two of her novels have been translated into German. Her essays, reviews, and poems appear in many journals and anthologies, including Essays on Canadian Writing, The Malahat Review, West Coast Line, Prairie Fire, CV2, The Echoing Years: Contemporary Poetry from Canada and Ireland, and Best Canadian Poems 2013. She edited Before the First Word: The Poetry of Lorna Crozier, and for ten years she was the editor of The Muses’ Company press. She teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Winnipeg.

Books by this Author
Cyclops Review, The

The Most Spontaneous Thing

Adrienne Ho

Walking toward Bank Street in winter, cold showing in our breaths. You leapt

pressed my back down against what would have been a raised flowerbed in summer, your mouth planting kisses.

The whole few seconds, I was thinking: what if someone's looking, what if in my backpack I carried some blown glass ornament you didn't know about?

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In the First Early Days of My Death

In the first early days of my death, I could easily rise above the earth, past the massive, crenulated tops of the elm trees, over the scent of honeysuckle, into the summer sky that was ­thick and soft as a dark bolt of cloth, stars pushing them­selves through like bright needles.

I could see the narrow, muddy Seine trickling north and the wide, muddy Assiniboine flowing east, both of them empty­ing into the Red River. I could see the whole length of the Red, its gleaming black surface with the wake of the moon upon it like a curved path I could trace to the horizon. I saw every house I'd ever lived in and the orange cross above the hospital where I'd been born and where I now lay. I peered into the windows of build­ings and learned to part the glass like cur­tains so that I could pass right through.

If I wanted to, I could reach anywhere, feel the whole world at once, full of water and white sand and polar ice, fish in the oceans, red peppers and basil and lilies with their folded petals closed, unbearably lush and delicate and quiet in the dark­ness. I could hear everything, each exhala­tion of the humid air breathing through the branches far be­low, each muted puncture of the sky as another star poked through.

Some nights, if I let the wind blow through me, I could hear the dead begin to speak.

It's true.

Their voices, low and insistent, rustled past me like the wings of flying birds, and some­times they sang.

But I was not interested in them.


Maybe my life would have ended differently if I'd ac­cepted Mrs. Kowalski's invitation to join her at that pro­test rally at City Hall. Mrs. Kowalski was a determined woman, the most persuasive of my mothers, but I'd said no. I had to clean the house that day. I had to prune the oregano before it encroached any fur­ther on the lettuce patch. And I defi­nitely had to phone a locksmith. Besides, Mrs. Kowalski was always pro­test­ing some­thing. The year I was thirteen, it was pesti­cides. The year I was fourteen­, it was pornogra­phy. By the time I was fifteen, I'd gone to live on Langside Street with old Mrs. Lamb, who was far be­yond the mothering age and cer­tainly past pro­testing anything. But Mrs. Kowalski never gave up. That summer, she was against gamb­ling. Or at least gambling down­town.

The City of Winnipeg had changed a lot of bylaws so that All-Am Development could tear down four square blocks of Winnipeg's remaining core and erect a luxury casino complex, com­plete with gourmet restaur­ants, fountains, and skylights, and a glass tower with a green spire that would be the tallest structure ever built in the city. This plan angered a lot of people be­cause of the historic buildings that would be destroyed, including the Walker The­atre, where Nellie McClung had staged the fa­mous mock parlia­ment in 1914 which debated the issue of granting the vote to men. It enraged others simply because the mayor pushed through the by­laws with­out con­sulting the public. And it in­censed people like Mrs. Kowalski, who didn't believe in games of chance. She grounded me once for playing poker with the boy next door, although we were only playing for pennies. She was the strictest mother I ever had, and wouldn't listen to excuses. "Don't push your luck," she always said. Maybe she was right, con­sidering the way every­thing turned out.

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Latent Heat

13 Lines in Order to Forget You

a scientist draws a picture of the brain on the blackboard, she labels the memory with a piece of chalk

a doctor raises his hand, a question flutters on the tip of his tongue what were we talking about again?

meanwhile, a patient with amnesia wanders down the hall and walks out of the hospital how easily you've slipped my mind

I have forgotten you, and if I were the two-headed woman on the cover of the National Enquirer today

I would forget you twice


The Naked Eye (in memoriam, HJB)

You are so far away, or let's be truthful, you've been dead for twenty years, a synapse in the brain of the city, these streets so fractured, full of spaces. I thought I saw you again this morning, walking the maze of paths behind the planetarium, as if you remembered the time the teachers took us up there, let us read the sky. They told us any loss of matter is converted into energy. They gave us telescopes and metaphors: You disappeared at the speed of light. But some things are apparent only to the naked eye. I can stand on the Norwood Bridge and seem to touch the potent circuit of the river. Venus, small as the spurt of a penny match, appears suspended, caught in the gap of the St. Boniface cathedral's excoriated window frame. The downtown lights are sparks the city lets go, attempting to purify itself. This city is still hot, young friend, white hot. It runs on the electricity conducted through the streets when heroes turn to constellations. It's heat that separates the metal from the ore, because in metallurgy, as in death, beauty smoulders closer and closer to the surface of the body, becoming visible at last, setting itself free. The burnt cathedral, with its empty window open like a mouth, says, ah. The sound of finding what it's lost. If you can see me, make some sign. Darkness is settling down, all over the suburbs, and Venus is rising. I can almost see the passion that set her blazing like a flare, an SOS, a way of saying, don't stop looking for me. I am here.

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Before the First Word

Before the First Word

The Poetry of Lorna Crozier
tagged : canadian, literary
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What the Snake Brings to the World by Lorna Crozier

Without the snake

there'd be no letter S

No forked tongue and toil,

no pain and no sin. No wonder

the snake's without shoulders.

What could bear such a weight!

The snake's responsible for everything

that slides and hisses, that moves

without feet or legs. The wind for example.

The sea in its long sweeps to shore and out again.

The snake has done some good, then.

Even sin to the ordinary man

brings its pleasures. And without

the letter S traced belly-wise

outside the gates of Eden

we'd have to live

with the singular of everything:

sparrow, ear, heartbeat,

mercy, truth.

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