Monday, November 15, 2021

The Small November: Six anti-ghazals for Phyllis Webb




The distance                     houses. Ninety-four years,
deliberating Ideas, backstage with Leonard,

or crafting failure, enough
until it, too, could sing.                Hermetic sounds.

Artifacts of blessings, common good.

The echo reflects    across the imprint

of such ancient curve. A bowl, perhaps. This stone
upon the question.

To revise on paper and endlessly           think.



No writer                an island. A stone’s throw
seeking tether,         shorelines. On Salt Spring,

where she lay                    books aside.

A correspondence             : the small hand
of an outpost. Fierce, and fiery. A copy of her essays,

signed. A wedding present. The closing pages 

held, and scattered. Fell     , against this
floating detour.



The argument of moments                              , memorials.
Monuments. John Newlove, also. Cross-legged

in a room. The memo                           of an artifact. Naked.
To highlight care, and gentleness. Two ladybirds, spin.

This texture of blossoms. Sundeck. A space of intimacy,
to land on spitting dust. Ascribe the mainland. Long shadow, gulf.

The paintbrush                                      or the shutter.

Capacity                            of the single page.
Where you have left                               your mark.



My mentors are dying. Friends. Douglas Barbour, Joe Blades,
David Donnell. Incomparable speech.

Michael Dennis. Bless your cotton socks.

Cold             , this curse of weather. Green island grass.
A footpath, there, approaching Royal Canadian Legion Branch 92.

Illumination, illumination. More than I have. More
than I might comprehend.

A cobweb, across              the field of the sayable,
towards the white frame.



Gerald Manley Hopkins: “I am happy, so happy.” Last words,
set against a silence. Certified, crafted. Coiled.           As careful

as a phrase. Iambic pleasure. Brief candle, pen. Lone typescript.
Salt Spring Garbage Services                 : what saturated air

; this modest shed of mildewed paperbacks.

Her hand-scrawled autograph                decorating discards.
Island restoration, salvage                     , refreshed

and undiminished. Books, perpetual                          ; released
into the undercurrent.



Heidegger, Heidegger. The wood          still split.
Her brother’s gift of scotch. The ferry, lace

and thread. An ebb. An alphabet

of broken skin. Meniscus. This daylight spread
like plush. We watch this morning passenger, port

into the unfamiliar. Alongside.    We watch
it occupy both absence,

space. This              peacock blue.
This crest and curl. We chase the furrows.

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