too great to put my own feet in.
Some of them are sticky,
keeping me in one place
until I can pull a foot away.
I have to wander by touch.
Shadows still blur the way
-the past not yet solid form.
In the murkiness I can see
their colours leading in the distance.
I thought I was on my own path,
creating tangents, running away.
In fact I am trying to keep up.
Because I can’t see clearly, I invent,
dancing in time with my ancestors.
|“monk 2”, batik (Artwork by Sandra Bunting)
I cried when I saw your broken bones
black with tar or scorched, always fires here.
Large boulders support your weathered limbs,
between warning signs that belong in a war zone.
They’ve moved on. No one will have you,
a condemned old tart that can’t be trusted.
Once fishing boats clustered around you
Stella Maris, Reve de l’Acadie, Annie Rose.
You lifted young ones into the sea
as they made their first strokes,
playfully leaving tar on city bottoms.
The thunder of cars caressed your beams.
This landscape I wandered as a child is foreign to me.
How could I have thought there was magic here
when all I see is sand and dead trees washed by sea,
a wasteland of dunes broken only by sharp grasses?
I huddle around a bonfire with adults I don’t know.
Where we used to dig for clams hotdogs roast.
On the beach I stay frightened to swim out too far
even though there is no shelter from afternoon sun.
I follow a sea bird to the island’s other side,
a pile of boards is where the lighthouse should be,
a metal pole now holds a torch to warn ships in storms,
no human touch, no keeper of the light.
To get away from the feeling that all is gone,
I step over a rivulet through sand to the sea,
baby starfish scattered there as in a night sky
and as I stand it all comes rushing back to me.
Smooth darkness on gentle air,
warmth though winter just gone.
Suddenly in a crowd they come,
milling around street lights.
Brown cloud from the sun,
clumsy clutter hugging brightness.
Wings beat trying to return
fooled by false rays of a porchlight.
Flying beetle of dung, no beauty,
no joy of spring or flitting among flowers.
Transient existence flies into a window
to loudly leave, there, its mark on life.
|“don’t sit under the orange tree”, painting on silk
in the flutter of an eyelash
I am back,
small form on endless white,
skates poised on a frozen river.
do you save me this time?
do you reach out
and take my hand
when I fall into
icy blackness below?
do you save me,
or am I trapped
forever under ice,
bitter grin of winter?
I was told
that salt water never freezes,
but here I am now
submerged in a bay
too cold for eels
too deep for seaweed.
do you save me?
do you strip the padded clothes
from my heavy body?
do you whip off the skates
that drag me down?
do you let my skin vibrate pink
and cut through water to the surface?
nothing but emptiness for miles
until your disembodied arm appears
and I come out of it this time.
who exactly are you,
you who salvage the wreckage
from the chill of death
and breathe warmth into me.
Sandra Bunting grew up in Miramichi, New Brunswick, and now lives in Galway, Ireland.