These poems were written over the period of a couple of years, after having moved to a semi-rural setting on Vancouver Island after thirteen years in Vancouver.
Certainly the landscape of my new home influenced this work—living on acreage, working a large garden, being closer to forests and ocean—the details of daily life change sharply when one moves out of large city.
A second influence, more significantly, was a trip to India in 1999 and a continued exploration of Buddhist teachings. These poems retrace trails first explored in work written years ago, but readings in Buddhist literature have perhaps clarified some of the questions: the nature of self and desire, of faith and time, of love.
I remind myself over and over of the importance of process over product, of seeing beyond expectations of results. I believe this has led to a closer relationship with narrative in my work—a gentler approach to both following the story and to letting it go.
I have won and lost
you who loved the telling
Words were our gift. Those moments when
it was not faith, but fear that shouted
It took the poorest and most wretched
(But remember the mistakes you made were caused by the mistakes you made)
This simple process. The world inside
If memory exists—
it waits in hands and fingertips, in bones
Sometimes I am within
sometimes years keep me
Collapse all time, all fractions, multiples
We’re left with pieces, dreams that wake us
Imagine yourself close
This is life
death joyously remembers
We are influenced by light
on winter afternoons
rival the sun for brilliance.
the city sleeps. We too are waiting
on the coast. Global winds
Off a stone beach we watched
The house fills with nesting
This peculiar season brings
extend themselves, unwary
A shadow grows
we breathe our history like air
This moment perception and mystery
A hard frost this morning—
the limbs of trees washed
learned over and over:
impossible silence. A year ago
and hid us well. I am watching
in the long grass beyond the fence
one hand against the metal sky
Rain diminishes the landscape—.
the field of sodden grass
with shrunken fruit.
We know the day to day as warden.
the year is changed
It is enough
into darkness—the brief glow of sun
The path narrows under the black trees
Tomorrow darkness will come
Last night through the telescope
tailing a distant planet,
A gentle shift in light and time—
as secret as it has been.
The wind over the strait
The focus of our lives becomes
We woke this morning
Cross legged in the temple
A memory: your hand on my shoulder
The lama built
we were leaving
I placed a rupee at its feet
monkeys singing with compassion
The old heart struggles in the night
This time, this time
we’re flying, buoyant, hopeful
over a thousand mile plain of dusty roads and aged cities
fringed in gold
Kathryn MacLeod lives in Nanaimo, BC on Vancouver Island. Her publications
include “mouthpiece” (Tsunami, 1996) and How Two (Tsunami,
1987). Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals in Canada and
the United States. At present, she is completing a Master’s Degree at
Simon Fraser University.