Four Poems by Eve Joseph

New Work

All morning the wind has banked a grey wing over the city. On the prairies it is a cry in a stairwell, a foundling; on the coast, it is salt blowing in off the water, an ancient highway between Hakuba and Otari. As much as anything, we want to know that when the boat capsizes, we can hang on. We will not necessarily understand. Take Nijinsky’s last journal entry for instance, my little girl singing ah ah ah ah…she wants to say everything is not horror, but joy. When you died, wind shook the windows. You, who conjured Charlemagne, left us here, unarmed and wildly unprepared.


The chestnut tree has burst into ice-cream blossoms. The boy looking for coins in the trampled grass stumbles upon a monkey in a cage and feeds him beer from a discarded bottle. The fairgrounds are empty, overnight the caravans disappeared as miraculously as they appeared one August morning in a field on the outskirts of town. When he returns the next day, the cage is gone, along with the monkey. As a grown man he will think back on that day as if it held the secret of childhood; the key, he held briefly, lost in the empty lot where the ferris wheel carried its little cargo of souls round and round in the starry night.


Even the magnolia is surprised by the size of its blossoms. Two weeks ago there was nothing but today wet petals litter the sidewalk. Sometimes you write a line and see there is no music: a sidewalk in the rain. It would help if a woman walked by in high heels with a child by her side. The child would hear the simple song of each step as part of a greater composition, a melody without a second part. A cavatina distinguished from a brilliant aria. For sixty years she would carry that sound as the first music she’d ever heard, her mother long gone. A melodious air.


Someone has painted a mural in the hospital playground: frogs on lily pads, a bright yellow sun, arrow-head rays. The women who sort laundry take their breaks there. One pulls off her shoes and puts her feet up on a white plastic chair; another lights a cigarette and turns her head to blow the smoke away. On the sixth floor, the body of a man is lying beneath a freshly laundered sheet in a dimly lit room. His wife has returned home. She will come back one more time to view the corpse he has become. Children do not run in the playground. Even the coquelicot rabbits on the concrete wall can’t entice the girl to let go of her mother’s skirt. In the heavens, the archer points his arrow at the scorpion’s heart.

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Eve Joseph

Eve Joseph is the author of two books of poetry, The Startled Heart (Oolichan, 2004) and The Secret Signature of Things (Brick, 2010). She recently received the 2010 P.K. Page Founder’s Award for poetry and the 2010 Malahat Creative Non-Fiction Prize. She lives in Brentwood Bay, BC.