We lived a week in the slope-ceilinged, head-hitting house,
banged our knees against the banister, nailed pillows
against the rafters, abandoned our books in the sand.
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 briefly tuned into drought
across the land, 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 dusk’s thick fog,
nine deer in the tall grasses, staring at us.
Behind the house, a cemetery. Beyond, the world’s
calmest ocean. Villagers had pulled tombstones out
from the dense alder, bayberry and rugosa, scrubbed
till the old Swiss-German names appeared. Rearranged
the stones in a harmonious new order that renamed
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.
Copyright © Maureen Hynes. Originally published online for The Puritan (2017) and forthcoming in Sotto Voce (Brick Books, Fall 2019).
Maureen Hynes’ fifth book of poetry, Sotto Voce, comes out from Brick Books in Autumn, 2019, Her first book, Rough Skin, won the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award. Her fourth book of poetry, The Poison Colour, was a finalist for both the League’s Raymond Souster and Pat Lowther Awards, 2017. Her work has been included in over 20 anthologies, including two volumes of Best Canadian Poetry in English (2010 and 2016), and in The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry in English: Tenth Anniversary Issue (2017). Maureen is poetry editor for Our Times magazine.