For the Unmothered
Sleep away from the beautiful earth,
praise the intimates we blame if they ache.
See here the stars plunged, we leaned,
laced to the brackets of punishing fields,
this through-fare some magical place,
gatekeepers of knit-bombed barbwire,
line claimed by the living with heartbeats,
the seed of next self sprouting, wild with
chlorophyll, breaking thin clefts barely
visible. Every molecule to the foundation
and deeper. How belonging to two cities
can make you sick, blood tests at dawn,
the crack we brave in the canker
room. Silence makes freight, diminished
to a pinprick, some people freed faster
than others. Unwind, work worthless
wings for luck, fathom this three
hundred million year clock we measure
witness with. In old water, in certain light,
know it known, wish us elsewhere.
What are we, exactly, but luck, timing,
too many objects to object to, damned
to follow the status hunt for new stars.
Known rubbed open with unknowing,
this is how we be brave, insistent instinct,
animal victims to love. It’s gone so cold,
hear leaves falling for the first time. You
are not born yet, you have yet to arrive,
years disappear on unsteady feet, lean
on splintered fractions, holding a throat
full of departures. This is how we know
ourselves, the counterpart who counters
with hypotheticals. Eliminate if, look
for hinge. Everything you could never say,
can’t help what comes next. Accomplice,
say I love you if love you is yes.
How fast do we get smaller, like horses who
swim to block the channel home. Pull us
to the surface, there are sharks here, cells that bloom,
die. Holy people walk their dogs here, owe loss
to the dogs, the dead dogs. We learned our lessons
through slapstick, not dropping the rope. Lousy
at Truth or Dare but keeping the oath, motions
we don’t know how often we make. Squeeze
the sun-drunk wasp, stethoscopes pressing leaves.
And yet some leaves more complicated than this.
And yet. Fever of ambulances, fresh grievances
shot in the skin of the sky on a needle, we binge.
The stain will remain, lines of text will crack
open, wash out the winter. Labour hard, fuck back.
We will stay this age forever, pledged to the bone.
We walk into the painting and are gone.
“For the Unmothered”
From an assignment for Eileen Myles at the Summer Literary Seminar workshop in Montreal, sourced (with permission) from the poems of every member of the workshop.
Poems and authors: ‘Rape 1949’ by Kaye Abikhaled, ‘Joggins Fossil Beach, Nova Scotia’ by Linda Adcock, ‘Halloween with my Mother’ by Marie Darsigny, ‘It’s in the Computer,’ ‘Ice,’ ‘Chaos Driver,’ ‘re: too many objects’ by Daniel Gartner,’Indelicacy,’ by Jacqueline Hanna,
‘Outbound,’ ‘Sprout,’ by Kailey Havelock, ‘The Unofficial Translation of Speech by Yuri Gargarin,’ ‘The Permeability of Fences and Flesh,’ by Deanna Radford, ‘Because We Don’t Need a Rearview Mirror,’ by Angela Stubbs, ‘A Praise for Soles,’ ‘Montreal Morning,’ by Susan Zimmerman, ‘On the Anniversary of the Blackout,’ ‘First Thursday,’ ‘Untitled 2’ by Tara-Michelle Ziniuk, ‘Untitled,’ by Sonja Greckol. Additional material from ‘Total Lol’ by Sophie Robinson.
“This Andromeda” is sourced from material presented by members of the Summer Literary Seminars poetry workshop in Montreal facilitated by Brenda Shaughnessy.
Poems and authors: ‘The Flowers of St. Francis’, ‘What Transpires in the Night Before the Night,’ and ‘American Spirit’ by Adele Barclay, ‘Your Wake’ and ‘Beached’ by Debra Bennett, ‘Field Kabuki’ by Justin Boening, ‘Come Night You Vanished’ and ‘Augury’ by Frances Boyle, ‘The Lynx in the Back of the Car’ by Robyn Jeffrey, ‘Back on Earth’ and ‘Poem Erased’ by Stella Nelson, ‘Ostentatious Still Life With Hospital and Body of’ and ‘Such and Such Happens and I Hear Music’ by Cori Winrock, ‘[My Secret Life]’ by Susan Zimmerman, ‘get’ by Daniel Gartner.
Roxanna Bennett is the author of The Uncertainty Principle: Poems (2014: Tightrope Books). She lives in Whitby, ON and works as an artist-educator, freelance writer, and is a poetry editor at Halfway Down the Stairs. She has written for Gender Focus, Hip Mama, Boxx Magazine, Feminists for Choice, The National Post, Descant, The Dalhousie Review, Qwerty, CV2, Vallum: Contemporary Poetry, Popshot, Slice Literary Magazine and many other publications.