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Photo: Barbara Bellows

Hard Light” by Michael Crummey is proving to be one of those books where I dread reading the last page.  Here … he retells and reinvents his father’s stories of outport Newfoundland and the Labrador fishery of a half century ago. Events long vanished are rendered here in myriad voices, with clarity and intensity of lived experience.

Today’s selection is at page 98.

‘At home on a cold winter’s night. The changing scenes of life. (1928)’

November bluster,
the night sky obscured by cloud.

On the tall ships I was taught
to steer by the stars,
took them for granted,
like a portrait of grandparents
hung in the hallway before
you came into the world.

There is a telescope on Mount Wilson
in California whose lens
weights 4 and one half tons
and measures 100 inches across –
they say it has mapped the heavens
for hundreds of millions of miles,
that the darkness is deeper than
we ever imagined.
New galaxies and constellations
discovered every day
and it is still only
the simplest things we understand.

The speed of light exceeds
eleven million miles a minute,
it travels through space
for thousands of years after
its star has collapsed;
it is possible
that all my life I have
taken my mark by
a body that does not exist.

A chunk of wood shifts in
the fireplace,
through the window I watch
winter clouds drift and gather.

Clotted field of stars beyond them,
light rooted hard in darkness.

Publisher: Brick Books
ISBN: 978-0-919626-95-9

Other “Off the Shelf” Selections.


indexThis selection is not my usual random pick from the book shelf.

I chose The Essential Anne Wilkinson selected by Ingrid Ruthig, Editor, after hearing Ingrid read at the inaugural ‘Writers In My Residence’ Salon hosted by Carin Makuz.

The Essential Poets Series presents the works of Canada’s most celebrated poets, published by The Porcupines Quill, “… an artisanal publisher that values the art and craft of the book, both in content and in form”.

This is the eleventh volume in the series.

Although the choice of book wasn’t random this time, the poem is.  I flipped this handsome book open to page 50 and here is what I discovered …


High as fear
The tightrope,
Thin as silk the string
My feet are walking walking
Since my mother cried
And the doctor cut the cord
And stranded me here.

Numberless as clowns
Are my beginnings —
Teeter, crazily totter,
Windmills for arms;
The long street breathless
And I more breathless than windows,

But I am two times born
And when a new moon cuts the night
Or full moons froth with my
And witches’ milk

I walk the tightrope
Free and easy as an angel,
Toes as certain of their line of silk
As the sturdy ones
Whose feet are curled with earth.

Publisher: The Porcupines Quill
ISBN-13: 9780889843769

cache_3246228204Inspired by comments from Janet over at Heart to Harp here’s another poem from Michel Pleau and his collection, “Eternity Taking It’s Time“.  The book wasn’t selected at random from the shelf, but Page 48 was:


you never know
what remains of the storm
after it has spilled
its overflow of lies
even into the abodes

nor how the lamps
drink from memory

and then comes the moment
when the night thinks
only of touching the name of things
to become the pond
that claims the abandoned world

Translation of La lenteur du monde by Howard Scott.

Publisher:  Bookland Press Inc. of Markham, ON.
ISBN: 978-1-926956-31-2

Eternity _Taking _Its _Time_FRONT_COVER

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