Conversation by Eleonore Schönmaier

Are my thoughts so noisy they murmur
outside my body?—keening like distant 

voices, like wind through buoys.
Each moment carries its own frame. 

On the shoals I count fifty seals,
their grey pod-bodies entwined. 

Is it their thoughts or mine
that I hear?—a longing 

so ardent and spacious.  The past
and its regret talks 

back to me:  panting, insistent, it holds
my hand.  I eavesdrop in the lapse 

between one wake-up call and the next.
What language emanates from the seals 

as they pleasure in the sun?  A vibration
shuddered in the air that lures  

me back to or away from myself,
conversation fetched home.


Copyright © Eleonore Schönmaier. Originally published in Treading Fast Rivers (Carlton University Press, 1999).


Eleonore Schönmaier‘s most recent books are Dust Blown Side of the Journey (2017) and Wavelengths of Your Song (2013) both from McGill-Queen’s University Press. Her poetry has been set to music by Canadian, Dutch, Scottish, American and Greek composers. Her poetry has also been performed in concert by The New European Ensemble. She has won the Alfred G. Bailey Prize, the Earle Birney Prize, and has been twice shortlisted for the Bridport prize (UK). Her poetry has been published in The Best Canadian Poetry, and has also been translated into Dutch and German.


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