Five Poems on Mary Pratt
Roast beef, and then pears on a plate.
Supper tables left, standing abandoned.
Chairs pushed back
after a milk jug is poured, a glass filled, then drunk quickly;
a day recounted, the way sun moves across a room from noon until six;
after a deep sigh, of disappointment, anger,
of love, frustration—
of love once more.
Empty places. Blanks that need to be filled in.
Glass bowls full of apples cut in half, open to air, world divided.
Christmas turkey, anonymous, tented in bent tin foil
to keep heat in, cold out.
Casserole in an open microwave, to re-heat.
Fish head in a steel sink, discarded. Talk of an amputation,
fragmented cast off. Something left behind.
Cod fillets in take-out cardboard boxes, and eggshells in an egg crate.
Grilse on glass, mouth open, gaping, yawning. Or longing.
Things in pieces. Leftovers.
Trout in pan, then raspberries that reflect summer.
Depression glass, coloured or maybe clear. Ripples in clarity.
Marriages that shift, shimmer, break.
Pheasants with lace and velvet, still feathered, hung upside down.
Markers of dissolution. Half a birthday cake, tarnished shine of memory.
Trifle in a dark room, melting. Sacrificial.
Bright lupins in the window of a husband’s burnt out studio, colours left
as an offering to what was. Litany of love lost. Floral rosary beads,
clicking through fingers, slipping now. Away.
That gas station, with the cow strung up,
half gone, only the parts that matter
left now. Back of a tow truck.
Legs splayed wide, and how that
makes you think of invasion, desecration.
How violation isn’t always clear cut.
Another one, hung upside down,
skinned but for the bottoms of legs,
its hooves gathered, neatly. A bouquet in a vase.
Before fire pits, there were barrels,
taken from industrial yards in dead of night,
rolled down the hill under cover of darkness.
Toss in your poems, paintings, old secrets.
Flames will lick, taste edges and curves,
paper curled sensuous, tongued, heat devouring.
In depths of January, when a polar vortex comes,
a fire barrel on the edge of a northern lake sends
shimmers of heated air up, incense and burnt offering.
Toss in your secrets with deft wrist. Watch them
turn to ash, smoke-grey and sepia. All memory
turns in on itself—rewritten, then erased.
So bright, he said, thinking of when they first met,
paint under their fingernails, and walks along Sackville streets.
Time spent together, along a marsh. So beautiful, she said,
her eyes alight. No, he replied. You haven’t seen Newfoundland yet.
He went first, spark rising, while she tended the house and kids.
She painted, in spare minutes gleaned from a life.
Woven, she said, of their marriage and art. (But jealousy nudges,
elbows in, shunts itself, divides an equation. Broken things.)
These five poems are from Kim Fahner's manuscript, Still Life, Dissolving: The Mary Pratt Sequence.
Kim Fahner lives and writes in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. She was the poet laureate for the City of Greater Sudbury (2016-18) and was the first woman appointed to the role. Kim's most recent book of poems is These Wings (Pedlar Press, 2019). She is currently working on a novel and a new play. Kim is a member of the League of Canadian Poets, the Writers' Union of Canada, and a supporting member of the Playwrights' Guild of Canada. She blogs fairly regularly at www.kimfahner.wordpress.com and she may be reached through her author website at www.kimfahner.com
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