UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LINKS
From: Miss Pamela's Mercy in Queen Rat: New and Selected Poems. Toronto: Coach House Press, 1992. p.83-4.
Jacobina Willhemina Carman
At fourteen, she could be wearing black,
her skin is the silver of clouds and seraphim.
She leaves in the rain, her dappled head turned,
and her blue eyes, now jewelled with mascara,
are a receding diadem.
She slides like soap in the bath, and sleeps with me,
found shot to death in a ditch in Bentinck Township, on side road 5.
The holes in her rib and cheek pucker,
like rotted fruit. My nightmare's fingers pick at it,
try to pull out the silver of gold from where it flames.
And hold the heart turned rusted,
rimmed orange on slate grey,
an inert sunset -- sunk low and silent.
Her limbs tangled in the dirt, hair rain-torn and wild.
Growing back into the earth, the roots surge,
pushing spears and bulbs through her bloodless frame.
They lift her gently with black gloves,
press her staring eyes closed.
lfeel the pulse of their stasis, and the beat of the gun.
The most beautiful name
I could think of, torn from fiction.
A Jacob's ladder of syllables coursing across my stomach.
A name to evoke a captive genius,
and to stir her amniotic heart.
And Carmen playing, as I dance,
clumsy in my pregnancy,
with a rose in my teeth. The petals I chewed on,
their veins seductive, their colour sweet.
She comes out with her forehead pleated and crimson
and her still wet body a trembling stem.
I would try to write you an elegy, about being
thrown back into the loam of Ayton.
to seed the soil and sky with fragments of your eyes.
But I can only think of questions,
that end with the simplicity, of you choosing, say,
your pineapple barrette, or green scarf,
and walking into the night.
Without an aria, rising to meet you in grief,
just driving with the wind and radio,
and playing pool and meeting someone
I will never know.
I try to capture this man: he walks beside me,
unblinking. Faces come to me, a rogues' gallery.
Mild mouths clamped over vicious teeth,
and eyes with tombstone pupils.
Or thin hands that held onto fingers,
and toss rifles carelessly into closets.
The man that kept you prisoner,
when I dreamed of you, over fourteen years ago.
The pictures you drew
still rustle around the house, are pinned to the walls.
Drawings of you,
as a child in a yellow playsuit,
its big feet poking through the crib slats.
A girl asleep in my arms on the beach;
on your last day of school, your hand
on your hip, blonde hair tangled and smiling lips.
Your life stops, and this glow seeps through.
Like watching your pale lungs burst and begin the universe.
The silence of my days, I leave you,
with the books closed, and Carmen dead.
Lynn Crosbie's works copyright © to the author.