i have now seen….

i have now seen--                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      nestled twixt warped ties of rusted train tracks,
snow, aged dingy, grey and black,
frosting loose, brown dirt and jumbled gravel,
while a stream hisses neath thin, dull ice,
and i look out over fields flecked with patches
of grisaille grass--
the tint of putty--
and wind, subdued, gasps
intimations of winter's seasonal assassinations....
under ledges of runaway clouds,
my love-hunting eyes view
stark outhouses the dirty snow frames
under a dustbowl sun.
the pothole-pocked, dirt road sprawls toward
the pine-serrated horizon,
where rough-edged hills,
lined with chicken-wire fences, sagging barns,
and derelict farms,
unfurl also.
i see rag-tag scarecrows murdered
by knifing winds, bleeding straw
in the snow-snuffed fields,
among broken wagon wheels,
the last monuments
to red-dust cowboys
who once twanged moon-June-silver-spoon tunes
to hay-ride madonnas
on rickety house steps
bordered by violently ruddy roses
and dead conches holding the ocean's roar.
this is the "now and then,"
"the future and the past":
the hollow corpse of a '57 Chevy
lays half-interred in a rambling drift,
half-smothered by the ivory quicksand.
suddenly, the shrieking banshee horn
of a rushing, steel juggernaut, boxcar hauler,
resounds and detonates across these hilly plains,
where fir trees, evergreen, point directly
to stars, visible or not,
that pinpoint where Aquarius strides
with his medicine water of galaxies gleaming,
pouring silver against indigo velvet.....
An ancestral African rocks his wooden rocker
in a clapboard cabin,
heated by an iron-black wood stove,
that percolates scents of cornbread and rabbit stew—
a still-life or Home-Sweet-Home vignette,
presenting a weeping, folk guitar
and white smoke lifting from a gnarled, mahogany pipe.
add a disordered woodpile, a dead orange tractor,
and evacuated dreams.
i have this old man's Zulu spear
(actually a Micmac cane),
and i perforate snowbanks
with the crooked, wooden point.
from now on, if i must cry,
let the tears signal Joy.

[Newport Station (Nova Scotia) 19 February 1977]



[“I have now seen.”  HERE: Locating Contemporary Canadian Artists.  Toronto: Aga Khan Museum, 2017.  38-39.]