CHERISH: A CENTO Dear friend, you have excited crowds with your example.1 I speak to judge crimes of filiation.2 Consider that the thing died before we ever proved it lived,3 the boatman’s ferry creaking with its legions of incurables.4 This landfall happened at your exact flooding and5 now you are sitting doubled up in pain,6 your head wet, streaming, smelling faintly of milk and oranges7— one who never left the adjective, who keeps my place8 the way the light drips down the sky in the finally morning.9 Cherish me today, for I am a vetch crisp and uncorrected.10
_____1 Maxine Kumin, “How It Is.” 2 Lisa Robertson, “Greeting.” 3 Gwendolyn MacEwen, “Death of the Loch Ness Monster” 4 Amanda Jernigan, “The Hyll” 5 Dionne Brand, Land to Light On 6 Phyllis Webb, “Naked Poems” 7 Erín Moure, “Betty” 8 Méira Cook, “Blue Lines” 9 Maggie Helwig, “Hunger and the Watchman” 10 Margaret Christakos, “Birch” LAUREL: A CENTO ELEGY Imagine her now, the raw lilies unfurling in her throat, their scent and fleshy thrust.1 Her silk spirit leaving the crown of her head2— what a heavy candelabrum to be borne.3 What rage for order disordered her?4 The guest without a wedding garment is cast into outer darkness.5 I would have made of my body a body to protect her, anything to keep her well & here,6 with my arms stretched out in that stone place,7 the one who never looks up, whose eyes are lidded and balled, like Blake’s,8 like pinwheels and burning schoolhouses9 beyond this fog. Mist. Rain. Fragile demon flags.10 Never the same river drowns the unalterable doorsill.11 Grief is original, but it repeats itself.12
_____1 Hilary Clark, “Her” 2 Jean Valentine, “The Morning of My Mother’s Death” 3 Maxine Kumin, “On Being Asked to Write a Poem About Anne Sexton” 4 Denise Levertov, “Olga Poems” for Olga Levertoff 5 Carolyn Maisel, “Baptism” for Anne Sexton 6 Lucie Brock-Broido, “Soul Keeping Company” 7 Anne Sexton, “Sylvia’s Death” 8 Sylvia Plath, “Death & Co.” 9 Gwendolyn MacEwen, “Fireworks” for Marian Engel 10 Judith Fitzgerald, “Elegy Written in a December State of Mind” for Gwendolyn MacEwen 11 Amy Clampitt, “A Procession at Candlemas” 12 Amy Clampitt, “The Dakota” _____ Tanis MacDonald is the author of three books of poetry, including Rue the Day (Turnstone Press, 2008). More recent work has appeared in Contemporary Verse 2, The New Quarterly, Studies in Canadian Literature, and Our Times. Her book, The Daughter's Way: Canadian Women's Paternal Elegies (WLUP, 2012) was a finalist for the 2012 Gabrielle Roy Prize in Canadian literary criticism. She is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, where she teaches Canadian literature and creative writing.