urban forest, cathedral height, ringing the circumference of the lot: nine parking stalls.
“let us make paper,” I say. record what is with a pen that is: wet, black, 4/5 empty.
crows fly bough to bough. I sip black coffee, watch them cross rim to rim: the anxious wobble of reflection.
branches dance in a visible way. observer, I.
“dance,” I say, and make a record: early June, mist. elms Jitterbug, Charleston, Twist.
I append the definition of elm to include (v.) dancing crow perch; mist-waltzer.
I look up the origin of crow: (v.) prehistoric West-Germanic, imitating the harsh call of the cockerel.
“where is the cockerel?” you say.
I look into the trees, into the coffee. dark pupils flip the world.
“not here,” I say.
caw ricochets through the leaves. black humours. shadows across the tension in the cup.
mist clears. wind hushes to static, changes its name to still: (v.) suspense arousal; (n.) what is between that which once was dancing.
we, old as all we have forgotten. as young as verbs.
I read the pen’s black progress, designate the marks “historical,” look around for crows. none perch/no perches.
“just wait,” you say. time passes.
sun lights the leaves, taints everything yellow. leaves striate the light, taint everything shadow.
you hum, dancing. I observe, make record:
seed flowers litter the black top, the red car, the living tips of elm’s twig fingers. thirsty darkness of bark. green flashes: above, light/beneath, shades. trees hum as wind interrogates their stature.
“when did it get so dark?” I say. a snap of cold across my legs, herd of gooseflesh.
“it’s not dark yet,” you say. “look up.
crows split the sky, a black river pooling in the west.
“which?” I say. “does it flow toward us or away?”
you hum. open your arms into opposing branches, turn a circle with your feet: sky spins between your hands. I write a definition of you: (n.) earth spinner, mirror of elm.
the parking lot fills and empties again.
elms drop seeds, drop sap, drop worms, drop leaves. wind erases ink: still collapses into action: I, observer, crow.
“listen to yourself,” you say.
the elm dips and you dance into seed-heavy branches. naked as earth, humming as the trees hum when the wind interrogates their stature.
caw and ruffle wing. the parking lot (flat) looks up at us from below.
“I’ve been here before,” you say, we say: the view all feathers flapping downy down, rain on yellow moss, bark and bird legs and claws.
shortlisted for the 2015 CBC Literary Award for Poetry
excerpt from then/again (Nightwood Editions, 2017)