22 April 2009

Cento for Alfred Purdy

Al Purdy and my mom died on the same day, five years apart. Last night I participated in the fund-raiser that Paul Vermeersch organized in Toronto for the Al Purdy A-frame house. Some lovely presentations there by Elyse Friedman, Dani Couture, Chris Banks, Adam Getty, David McFadden, and others. I wrote this cento, composed entirely of lines from Al Purdy poems, for the occasion.


He begins to speak
like a small storm cloud
and hills under our feet tremble,
and a small rain like tears
from the hot fields
under a million merciless suns
reach across the distance of tonight

Years later at Ameliasburg
I remembered that blind dog
under a faithless moon —
it was a heart-warming moment for Literature
— a thud and a cry
love and hate
doing pushups under an ancient Pontiac

Five minutes ago I was young, five minutes ago
we were very happy
but my hate was holy as kosher foreskins then
and the quick are dead and the dead grow hands
the goldfinch repairs his nest with a patchwork of sunset
fingers like fireflies on the typewriter
as earths shapes and reshapes itself
suspended between stars
in an imaginary town

I knew a guy once would buy a single drop
of the rain and mists of Baffin
as if a child had clapped his hands
into the tips of falling leaves
I’ve seen these trees spilling down mountains
like golfers searching for a lost ball
a necklace strung together
inside the brain’s small country:

light comes and goes from a ghostly sun
on both sides of the swan
but first they cut off his fingers
beside my crumbling little house
standing in a patch of snow
in the silvery guts of a labouring terribly useful lifetime

Which reminds me I’d better hurry and get out

21 APRIL 2009

Over and out.


At April 25, 2009 8:38 pm , Blogger Pat S said...

thanks for that


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