Louisa Howerow: Poems

Field Trip

We are learning to translate skulls,
a snatch of fur, dismembered claw.
Scavengers, our graying heads bend
to field grasses, the hollows, the earth.

Someone complains about knees,
another jokes about memory loss.
No one’s quite prepared for the cold.
The wind scrapes our faces, eyes,

me, as knot unraveling or cut through.
I poke a yet unidentified skull,
its pulled-back mouth, teeth set in a grin.
How else to know death or its aftermath,

if not through touch? We each carry
a specimen sack, plastic, zip-locked.
Tomorrow another narrative: tweezers,
fine bristled brush, magnifying glass.

Now the air fills with under-story,
premonition, double-track brooding.
(In my bag, a mouse head, the eyes
are missing.

*

This Being Summer
Lower Brittany, 2012

we are eating alfresco as swallows trace

stylized lines against a hazy sun, a white sky.
Someone mentions a colleague. “Found him

days later, hanging.” L.C. on my right wonders
if it was suicide or an orgiastic high miscalculated,
as if they cancel each other out. On the other side

of the fence the neighbour’s dog nips at a donkey.
“Rounding him up,” says our hostess, and we
return to ourselves. Perhaps, this being vacation,

none us wants to admit to ever skirting death,
or playing out a fetish. L.C. says she isn’t surprised
it was him.  All through dinner we snatch at

images, feed on details, remembered and imagined.
My partner opens her arms. “Such a gap between us
and them,” and I hear the robotic voice in the metro car,

watch the gap, and how there’s always the after,

what’s unsaid. The barking and braying recede.
Our host blames our stories on the wine, not enough,

refills our glasses. He gestures toward the swallows,
in the too quiet light, the coming dark. We sit back
to watch them glide and swirl.

*

House Sparrows

as if the border hedge
is for them, as if dawn
waits to be broken
by non-stop cheeps

the leafless tangle
lets loose the males
chunky-chested, rufous-necked
the drabber females

who come to peck
and squabble at the feeder
a source of wonder
for my husband

whose body, something like
a sparrow’s, but paler,
quieter, slower,
shuffles toward the window

where, as if to restart
the day, a voice
I know asks again
and those what are they

*

Louisa Howerow‘s latest poems appeared in Red Earth Review, Nimrod International, and the Queen’s Quarterly.  Her poetry has also been included in anthologies, most recently, Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (ChiZine Publications), and River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the Twenty-First Century (Blue Light Press).

Louisa Howerow Sliver of Stone

 

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