We lived a week in the slope-ceilinged, head-hitting house,
banged our knees against the banister, tied pillows
over our brains, covered our hearts with oven mitts.
Spilled every kind of tea, crushed blueberries to mask
our bruises. Sunrise pierced our eyes awake. The sky
filled and emptied, fog surrounded the bed, curtained
our lovemaking. Once a day we heard news of drought
across the land and strife on the convention
floor. We cooked outdoors–scallops, turnips, rhubarb pie–
and folded ten-dollar-bills into herons and pelicans.
We found companions. A shabby-winged eagle perched
on a post, presided over our seaside holiday. Quick
visits from a hare family. One evening, a stillness with ears
stopped and moved and stopped: through thick dusk fog,
nine deer in the tall grasses, staring at us.
Behind our house, the cemetery. Beyond, suddenly,
the world’s calmest ocean. Villagers had pulled
tombstones out from dense brush and bayberry and rugosa,
scrubbed till the old Swiss German names appeared. Rearranged
the stones in a harmonious new order that renames
those lying below, children and women who died young,
men who lived long. Tidying the dead. We walked miles
of beaches daily, burned the bashed tops of our heads. Tides
puddled at our ankles, soaked our thoughts. The dead lent us
their sleep each night, and when we woke, we thanked them.
Maureen Hynes’s first book of poetry, Rough Skin, won the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award, and her fourth, The Poison Colour, was shortlisted for both the Raymond Souster and Pat Lowther Awards in 2016. Her work has been included in over 20 anthologies, including Best Canadian Poetry in English 2010 and 2016, and twice longlisted for the CBC Canada Reads poetry contest. Maureen is poetry editor for Our Times magazine.