When Hazel was a kitten, she

would climb the drapes,
wanting to see what life looked like from up above.
It wasn’t mischief, it was love! of exploration
and adventure. And folks, here’s where I should mention:
Haze was born into a barn, where climbing things could do no harm
and walking on the rafters was the favourite pastime of her cousins
who filled the barn in tens and dozens; from their perch, close to the sky
casting a protective eye
over the cows below.


When Hazel moved to city life she honed her skills in chasing mice:
some had little hearts that beat though most had plastic tails and feet.
Those plastic mousies ran Haze ragged, but they soon learned
her claws are jagged. And each toy mouse has lost its tail
to Hazel’s nails.


Now Hazel is a little older and, we say, a bit less bold,
she doesn’t swing from chandeliers or dangle from the chiffon sheers.
But she still claims the highest shelf, contentedly washing herself
and from her perch, close to the sky
casting a protective eye
over the house below.


Audio version: http://bit.ly/1uejuzg

Written when Hazel was 10 years younger, and published for her 11th birthday, 2014



Delving into the body
I lose my voice. Months ago
I knew how to enter the profound place
where words are formed,
where they pulse,
where their autonomic rhythms continue to beat
after they leave my brain – just as the heart,
transplanted, does not depend on the human organism
but sustains itself
travelling from one chest to another.

But now the body has claimed me, epidermis
to arachnoid mater: the spider mother wraps me
in sticky fibres, an unending sheath; layer by layer
I feel my way, cell by cell
marking this new path.

Add collagen: call it ligament. Add water: blood.
Filter out the red cells and let lymph carry me
to the vena cava, waste dump of the world.

In the deep background, syllables thump. Behind
the body’s pounding I hear their
syncopated variations. I need
a leaky vessel, a histamine
to spread these walls and carry me
to where the words wait.

Written in massage school, when I realized I had become so immersed in the physical that I had forgotten how to write poetry. Even now, after a day of massaging, I can lose the ability to speak coherently because everything I know is in my hands.


Break the walls

The outdoors
with its careless wings and scavenging feet
invades through the brick and wood
and breathing spaces of my July home.

Hidden passageways open their secret doors:
grasses, crumbs, and damp dark spaces compel
the frontier crossers, oblivious
to my imagined boundaries.

Sheep come through the rail fence
spiders decorate the ceiling corners
ants and earwigs by the dozens
trace pathways for their friends.

And the tiny winged ones occupy the air,
living their short lives until they fall
to the sill, casting long shadows
across the polished wood where I sweep them up.

A saviour, I scoop the insects
out and out and out. My kitchen cloths lie strewn
across the deck while small, unwilling tourists
ponder their new landscape.