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The Vivian Poems

The Vivian Poems

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged : canadian
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A Beautiful Stone
Excerpt

Fragilitiesa chickadee wheels hard into my kitchen windowI carry its silencelay it gently on the snow after the earthquakeamongst the cathedral stoneschildren gather the stained glasshunched over by the frosted windowher arthritic paint-stained handscreate deer and children on a green hill with happy trees after the earthquakeamongst the cathedral stoneschildren gather the stained glass from twigs and leavesstones and snow his creations refined by naturesculpted by wind and rain after the earthquakeamongst the cathedral stoneschildren gather the stained glass outside this trucka bare face would in minuteslook like the moonlighting these empty fieldsafter the earthquakeamongst the cathedral stoneschildren gather the stained glass

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The Dry Valley
Excerpt

Playing it SmartWinter of grade one.Boys built a snow hut.It's for guy stuff, not for girruls.But two girls got invited in,whispered their story in the coatroom after recess.That night, I rememberedmy secret deal with the smart boy. Tippy-toedto the front porch from the kitchen carryingthe old brown stacking stool, carefulnot to clunk when I set it down.Grabbed my pink show'n'tell bag frommy hook and climbed up. My armjust reaching the red rolled-upgirly calendar Daddy tucked up therewhen he came home from the service stationone day before Christmas.I slipped the naughty into my sack,put the stool back, and snuckto my room. With my treasure under my bed,I was one step closer to the hand of the boywho'd walk me into the fort. At leastI wouldn't have to kisssome dumb boy or standin the cold and lift my snow white undershirt.

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Love and Surgery
Excerpt

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,the world offers itself to your imagination...The wild Canada geese fly south, taking the initial of my first name,mocking my incomplete passport application, my inability to fly.Yesterday nothing but dullness between us, my energy depleted at the speed of dark, your exuberance overpowered by my sheer inertia. You finish packingthe last remains, your first initial in the suitcase sighing as it closes. With a snap of its latches, you leave me the V and ampersand, your dog and Jo's cat. Today I pass the preying bald eagle on a chunk of lake ice, the last snowbird to leave this winter, so much colder than last. At the end of the road, my newspaper is gone,the geese gone, the pelicans gone, the cottagers gone, you gone south. Today I hold my face to the north wind, while the wipers play frozen tag on the windshield. The heavy spume crosses the causeway making iceon the fly. I repeat "Break, break, break against these cold grey rocksoh Lake Winnipeg," turning in to what is still our driveway, though there's only me to say "I'm home."

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Adam's Tree
Excerpt

And at that moment, a tall, hefty man stepped up to the sleigh and pointed a rifle at Belle's head. "I'll tell you what the trouble is," he growled. "You're the damned trouble! The whole damn bunch of youse. Not a goddamned soldier among youse!" "What are you talking about, Ronnie? It's me, Stanley, your brother. What'n hell?!" Ronnie ignored that. He wrenched the glinting barrel from Belle's head to Norman's heart. "I'm in charge! And I'm the major general! Right, Smoky?" The young boy beside him squeaked, "Yes, sir!" Sophie knew that something was horribly wrong. Stanley had tightened the reins at this odd reference to soldiers. "Tell them, Smoky!" Ronnie ordered. The thin boy, of no more than ten or so, called out, "He's the major general and he's in charge!" "Tell them so they hear!" shouted Ronnie. "He's the major general and he's in charge!" Young Smoky's voice cracked in the cold air. Ronnie addressed the travellers. "Tell me I can't go to war! Tell me the army can't use me! I'll show you!" Spit flew from his lips. Ronnie loosed a blood-curdling screech that turned moonlit faces ashen. Sophie shrank into a ball. Cries of shock and consternation were stifled in coat sleeves and covers. Ronnie's gun roamed to Alex. Stanley slipped the reins to Norman, who'd never held a team in check and clearly didn't want to now. He shook his head, hiding his hands under the folds of his parachute. But Stanley thrust the reins hard at his chin and leaped down to stand in the snow beside Ronnie. Norman took the reins. "Come, brother." Stanley spoke in smooth, gentle tones to Ronnie, who lowered his gun for a moment. "Think of the women and kids all cold out here. And hungry, too." But Ronnie's cry seemed to claw its way through churning guts into his lungs. He whirled around and put the gun to Stanley's head. The horses jumped in their traces. Alex grabbed the reins. He sawed the bridle bit in the horses' jaws back and forth, bringing them to a standstill. Sophie had never heard such a cry from any human or animal. All the more frightening, Ronnie shouted at them to get the hell off the sleigh. Everyone but Sophie obeyed. She sat as still as a mouse, watching the passengers sinking into the deep snow. They clung to one another in a road lashed with snowdrifts, a nearly invisible road stretching to nowhere safe. Cookie's boots filled with snow. Belle whispered that her legs felt burning, real bad. Ronnie wobbled as he closed in struggling to hold a roaming rifle at eye level. Sophie caught a whiff of alcohol. Slowly, she heaped the blankets around her, trying to make herself appear like a pile of covers. The only movement coming from the boy and his dog were puffs of breath, rising in the air.

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Excerpt

"The table my father built is long gone and only the memory of it remains, possibly transformed into the sculptural tables I've been creating in my studio. Our Fleury Street house had no sewer, water, power, telephone, sidewalks and fences. The ashes and cinders from the City incinerator were dumped on our streets. We had an outhouse. Going to the "can" was quite the experience. The City "honey wagon" came by regularly to pick up the full can and leave an empty. Our outhouse door faced north and so one of the benefits of a late-night visit was a spectacular view of the star bright night sky. With the outhouse door open to the world, I was able to locate Ursula Major--the Big Dipper--Polaris and the summer triangle. Often, I would catch a glimpse of a shooting star. In the deep winter, the Aurora Borealis, alive with colors would perform a magical ribbon dance. Waves of greens, yellows and rosy hues twisted and turned, constantly in motion filling the northern sky."

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