Canadian Poetry Online top banner link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page

Limestone Ghazals: 6 Poems

Elizabeth Zetlin
From:   Limestone Ghazals. Always Press.


Lake Huron Alvar

There is a calm here. A ragged
windy, wordless, endless calm.

A cedar grows as a heart might,
low to the ground, far from its start.

Whole forests the size
of a dining room table.

"An ornament on a great teacher's head,"
say the Anishinabe of white cedar.

The dead ones linger and shine,
gesture - you too, you too.


Halfway Log Dump

How stones glow next to skin,
settle into hollow of hand.

I gather up all your greys: from
charcoal to shadow to ash.

Calcareous crush, earth's slow river.
Three turquoise hours, forty green minutes.

These word pebbles are for you. Place
not flowers but stones on my grave.

If the sound of a black hole is b-flat,
what note does limestone make ?


Little Cove

Like a heron stalking its prey, head crooked, jerking slowly forward, I take a step.

The Anishinabe have always been here. Stones, their old people.

If you chisel the word "limestone," you'll find: toe nest, lone steel stem, time, mist, eons, one tone.

I want them all. All the smooth warm ones, each wet one that gleams like a freshwater pearl.

A huddle of ladybugs turns the grey stone saffron, pumpkin, pub-orange.

What we call holy — a few days, some books, most wars, a particular land.

Suddenly the biologist calls in the raven. Such reverence in his stance, his voice.


Burnt Cape, Newfoundland

Where walking at a snail's pace is too fast.
Where tuckamore is a state of mind.

Bergy bits. Cloudberry pie. Tooth-picked
chocolate-dipped marshmallows on iridescent glass.

Not that you can't have "ways," but being set in them,
now that's old.

Lazybeds of potatoes, turnips, cabbage. Roadside
gardens pop up even before the road is paved.

Endemic & endangered, thin as a baby snake:
the barrens willow. Survival of the flattest.

Where five-year-olds hold stones to their hearts
and hockey players think Fernald's braya is cool.

Where wealth is community, not a second VCR.
Where responsibility is as long as the land.


Blast Hole Pond Road, Newfoundland

A window is her TV. One channel
and all the programs she needs.

It's a question of memory and metaphor.
How much can you embrace? Let go?

At lake's edge, back to the setting sun,
only my shadow darkens the stone.

Walking with a woman whose name means
bring into being and rhymes with meets.

I felt authentic, flowed through.
That's why I was crying.


Heathrow

Aer Lingus: seats upholstered with poem shards:
Kiss me specially . . . and with blue black a holy light.

At death, my mother's tongue
grew pale and rounded as stone.

Air Canada sign on seat cushion:
your life jacket is under your seat.

The first time my son brought home
a stone for his own kitchen table. Ah!

Give us this day
without power and glory.




Elizabeth Zetlin's works copyright © to the author.


Canadian Poetry Online bottom banner link to University of Toronto Libraries home page link to Digital Collections home page link to University of Toronto Library catalogue link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page