Four Poems from Open Air Bindery


By David Hickey


So this is where I’ve hidden
my ghost, shadow of all

my firsts, essential self
shuttered down to its most

basic pajamas:
I’ve been looking for you,

ornithological bouquet
blooming in the dark

room of my days,
I’ve been walking around

in negative,
I’ve been wondering

how I fit, moony
white, in the wetsuit of my body—

so it’s good
to greet you at last,

and to see
there’s nothing wrong

with me, nothing
broken, nothing missing

but the wings
of a book

in my hand, nothing
but a little

left on inside me.

Suburbia the Beautiful

There’s nothing I
don’t know about marigolds.

That’s why
I can tell you

the tallest is nodding to the second-

in a small
battalion of summer.

That’s why
they’re paused and sympathetic

next to the patio lattice.
That’s why

you should really
fix your patio lattice.

The stop sign
reddens the street.

The raccoon
machetes the hedge.

And the paperboy
you forgot to pay

last week skirts
the sidewalk’s edge,

fielding a fly ball
deeper and

deeper in the canola fields
of his mind. Only

he’s never seen canola,
so that’s why

the fly ball never lands.
(There’s nothing

I don’t know
about fly balls that never

land.) That’s why
the sun sets

the way that it does
well past the gates of evening.

That’s why
the garage doors

close the way that they do,
that’s why

they wave slowly

that’s why
the foliage, why

the drawbridge,
and why

the quiet castle.
The pavement rivers

past empty
lots. The lawn

waters itself off to sleep.
And the soft

raft of the day,
it gets lost

in the sea
of the paperboy’s

blue denim.

A Brief History of Human Longing

Chapter One

I borrowed it from the library. It held onto my hand.

Chapter Two

I carried it like a rosary. It was the weight of a wedding band.

Chapter Three

I wore it off to work each day and back again at six.

Chapter Four

It sang out to the mower (the sink I couldn’t fix).

Chapter Five

I fell asleep against its font and my sleep was an old green hill.

Chapter Six

I look up sometimes, and I see it there.


And farther, farther still.

Oh God, Oh Charlottetown

The harbour told me this once.

It told me about a city where the snow drifts
took on the colour of every house

they brushed against,
and the front lawns and the streets were tinted

by the dozens of shades
that clung to the neighborhood

homes. Miraculous,
it said. Snow fell on the rooftops in a way

that made me think
it had always been winter in that city.

Strange, I know, but that’s how
it felt. It felt like

the middle of the night, and that, at such an hour,
the lawns and the streets

and the houses were all one,
as if the snow was the work of some

sleepless walker, one
who wore her thoughts through the city

like a scarf around her shoulders,
who gathered them

closer, all the conversations that passed by
single pane windows

disappearing into old drafts, the steady
drift of her footsteps

walking away with their light.

Excerpted with permission from Open Air Bindery by David Hickey, Biblioasis, 2011.

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David Hickey

David Hickey grew up on Prince Edward Island, in western Labrador, and along the north shore of Quebec. A past recipient of the Milton Acorn Prize and the Ralph Gustafson Prize, his first book of poetry, In the Lights of a Midnight Plow, was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award. An avid backyard astronomer, he now lives in London, Ontario.