EXCERPTS FROM THE SHORTLIST: CANISIA LUBRIN

 

That Instrument of Laughter by Canisia Lubrin

Nowadays I like to say cool
cool cool thrashing my tongue like iguana
before even a li’l wind ruffle my branch.

Because that was the dark, that was the dark
between my lips, saying nothing beyond the resolute,
so I forlorn, cool?

Here is where the chronicle of a small life
turned upside down, toward a heavy murmur
lets me make the place of my birth a fiction,
Kanata when I really mean Roseau.

Or calm, when the heavy hand really rests
there, casting its figure into flesh and heart,

I learned to be like the mute. But how to unlearn
contentment with silence within or without
that sorrow, never the same as the night,
though together they share the same start.

Wherever you happen to be
remember how the moon tilts its forehead on the bay
to permit the sun, erasure.

Here is where to picture the years
of seven and eleven means unlearning the multiplication tables

that I could only use in a black suit.
.    They were many. They were few.

So I traded my calculator for a pencil, cool?
Drew icing all over the sky
Filled black gutters on white sheets
with fathers like lime losing seed all over the yard. Cool.

There I wished for a rope to pull myself out of the spaces
between sentences. Nowadays I can never be cool,
glad to lie on my back and summon no rain.

from Voodoo Hypothesis, shortlisted for the 2018 Raymond Souster Award
Wolsak & Wynn | 2017 | 96 Page | $18.00 | Purchase online

Canisia Lubrin was born in St. Lucia. She has had work published in literary journals including Room, the Puritan, This Magazine,  Arc, CV2 and The City Series #3: Toronto Anthology. She has been an arts administrator and community advocate for close to two decades. Lubrin has contributed to the podcast On The Line, hosted by Kate Sutherland for The Rusty Toque. She studied at York University where she won the President’s Prize in poetry and the Sylvia Ellen Hirsch Memorial Award in creative writing. Lubrin holds an MFA from the University of Guelph and teaches at Humber College. She lives in Whitby, Ontario.