Erin Noteboom

can't you just

You never had patience with poetry. I could say your hair knotted into chrysanthemums, unpinned how it falls a banner of rain. Can’t you just talk, you said, can’t you just? Too smooth, too easy -- I want the lurch and spark, can’t just say: tender, foolish, erotic. Can’t just -- grief. And yet I know you’d be impatient. Grief long-stemmed. Grief awkward as a box. Can’t you just? Okay. Remember, at the end of Superman when he loses his Lois Lane

       and in his grief flies wildly around the world
       until it turns
       backward and time slips backward

       and Lois
            dark hair rumpled delicately
      takes that first startled breath

Oh my heart beating backward that’s just what I would – can’t you just?

Brady's Ghosts

After the war, Matthew Brady found the thirst
for grey lads in the poses of the dead
dried up. He returns to portraiture-–
but who wants their stiff face pressed
through a lens that has seen ghosts?
Even spiritualists balk. The bankruptors take everything.

The stacked glass negatives-–the posed and formal
dead, the real dead in their undone rapture-–
are sold to glaziers. Not suitable for windows,
of course, but greenhouses-–the boys of Anteitam
loose their shadows over drifts of ferns and orchids.


Tender History

In a trench cut tunnel on the Athens Metro
the foreman kneels to a tiled grave while the backhoe
settles with a sigh. In this city rich with rubble
the smallest thing can stop a dig - a dog's grave,
clay stone bones and blue beads still cuddled
at the throat. What amazes us about this?
The freshness of the loss, or that tender history
has left the patient jaw arranged
on jumbled paw bones --

(with apologies to A.E. Stalling, author of "An Ancient Dog Grave, Unearthed During Construction of the Athens Metro")

Erin Noteboom has appeared in many of Canada's literary magazines, including Malahat, Grain, Event, Fiddlehead, PRISM, and The New Quarterly. She reads in schools, give workshops, edit, and scrounge for grants. It's not a living, so she also does clerical work at a psychiatric hospital. Her first book, Ghost Maps: Poems for Carl Hruska, was published in 2003 by Wolsak and Wynn. The manuscript won the CBC Literary Award, and was featured on the CBC Program Between the Covers. She's Catholic by birth and by choice, a feminist by upbringing, particle physicist by training, secretary by day, New Quarterly editor by night, and writer by religious vocation. Noteboom lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, with her husband, fellow geek, fellow writer, and great love of her life, James Bow. Together they have one cat, two woks, three domain names, four full filing cabinets, five seasons of Buffy DVDs, and thousands of books. Noteboom can be reached via her Web site, Vivid.


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