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Poems from Nevertheless

Poem for Autumn

You came back to your life on a Saturday
by walking out into the pinkish-golden light.
The neighbourhood dogs smelled you for miles—
& came for you. Starting with a black Lab called Gus
who dove right into you—
A father pulled his boy’s hand across the road.
Everyone walking on leaves—Do you hear it?
The sound of things dying & splitting open—
Is this not everything we’re after? Each other.
A particular kind of sugar in the air.
The leaves on the oak trees the colour of tangerines.
Has it occurred to you that you know everything
you need to know to do the next thing that matters?
A black dog with a greying snout told me so.


Reveries of a Walker Walking Among Others

You have to be very keen and very alert to recognize the new manifestations of just one person.
—Thich Nhat Hanh, No Death, No Fear


At night I count
not the stars
but the freckles
on your head—


When I walk to the sea,
the tide rolling out
& in
is a feeling—


I see the sea of them:
on your forehead, face, elbows, arms, you
asleep on your hospice bed
your hair a white

bolt of lightning
childhood storms
cracking me open—


As for the feeling,
that everything is
always moving—



You asleep:
the body
I climbed onto
& claimed—


Sleep’s a sea
I want to be set
free in—


“When you died

it was like
a whole
library burned down—”


You: tiny, bobbing
black arrow pointing
this way & that—



When you left
the shape we took up


I see you in
our feet—


I hear you in
the crows’ abrupt
of code.


At night I leave
the house
with a leash & keys—

the dog meanders
alongside me.
We stop & stand

at the edge of the trees, squint
inside the blackness lit
up by the moon

& listen for you.


The Messenger

My name comes to me like an angel.

—Tomas Tranströmer, “The Name”


Your name comes to me like morning light wavering on the water

Like a plate of butter biscuits like butter

Like a bicycle in flight


Your name comes to me like the fuchsia shirt & shimmering copper pants

you put on after we woke up this morning before sunrise


& danced in your living room

& all the dreams of my childhood came back to me


Like the ravine we grew up in like the creek water that ran through it

Like rivulets popping out of rock

Like clay bursting open


The earth gives us so much:

This morning’s foggy walk through X̱wáýx̱way under cedars

The ocean water we dip our hands into

The salt on my fingers


The flock of Barrow’s goldeneye ducks who

flew together just above the water at Third Beach this morning

flying like dancers in unison


The coyote who appears before us who is part wolf

He looks at us like family

He looks out for us like family


At night, after we fall to sleep together

we come here like dancers

like wolves who are part coyote


In our dreams we clean up the microplastics

In our dreams we restore the reindeer

We travel north in solidarity


In our dreams the brown bodies the black bodies

the children in prison here and yonder go free—


In our dreams the ebullient silver bodies come back as salmon

The coral is beautiful again

In our dreams not all the birds return but

our home is the aviary is the apiary is the open sky—


Your name comes to me like the birch tree I climbed each day of my childhood

Like all the daytime reveries I was punished for

Reveries so delicious now that we’re free


When the children come they come as clowns

They come as pirates their booty is butterflies

They ride their ponies They wear crowns of peonies—


Your name comes to me like my father’s

gentleness speaking to us from the cedars


Like a black oystercatcher eating a limpet

Like a black oystercatcher whose red luminous beak

calls to us this morning against this backdrop of grey


Like a glass-bottomed boat

Like a pod of orcas swimming in the seas that need healing


Your name comes to me like an utterance

Like a half-conscious trip to the toilet in the middle of the night

Like the textures proffered by your testicles in my hand—


In another life we rode a starship together we rode a steamship

I wore a bonnet, briefly—

We eschewed the gold rush & the gold


In my dream you poured ambrosia over my head with a ladle

& I lasted


What I thought was wrong with me was not wrong

What you thought was wrong with you wasn’t wrong

Will you try to stay open to me like an egg?


You know of my body’s coldness you know my thin blood

Sometimes in our sleep you wrap my body in your body

Sometimes your heart’s a wavelength, the only arrhythmia of

the night—

Sometimes I dream you are catching a fish to feed us

Sometimes I feel the fire that belongs to us all


At night I dream you are braiding my hair

& the wolves come to keep us company

& their breath smells like fire like honey


Between my green eyes between your green eyes

so much moving in unison so much laughter

& fumbling & endless coconut butter—


Your name comes to me like the sound of pirate children playing in the boat

Like the first light of my girls like their pink faces like the vernix they wore like coats

Like the silence we swim in that sounds like love.