all the times you drove by our child, our house,
deserted with broken fences, cracked windows, all
the million jobs left undone, you in a such a rush
to adolescence because you missed it the first time around –
rock band rehearsal, & Sheeva, & hockey (sorry about that broken
ankle, but you never were much of a skater. but taking up hockey
at 46??? still, I said “of course
I’ll take on all your driving duties”
because even after you fired me, I was in the habit of wife,
& i forgive that too).
& I forgive that the child would see your car
and crying ask, “why
doesn’t he want to eat dinner with me?”
but I could only turn my head from the route
you chose, wondering, wasn’t there another way
you could have driven that day?
the pashmina i bought, brought home
to thank her for cooking, cleaning for you, my two,
pashmina soft, blue, blue and wide, as the little girl
eyes that blinked beneath her over-plucked brows
and pink, paisleys, shaped, as appealing to you,
as her barren uterus, the one that could only expel
unborns, like our never-to-be’s. because i knew sting,
& helped her through miscarriage, again and again and again
loss. failure. cramps’ razor-fear,
dank, brown-blooded hopelessness. o i knew that too.
so i gifted pashmina to warm her on Mother’s Day
the childless womans’ worst of the year, never dreaming.
what plans she had, sparrow, starling, nest-stealer,
for my daughter, with you.
the hard knock at the door,
the English bailiff. delivering sixty-four
pages of force, sixty-four pages
of thump, your case for divorce.
every word on every expensive page,
as you would know, after 29 years with me,
burnt, bitter herbs to my Catholic tongue.
then too i forgive the timing,
legal bullying, arranged just hours
before our young daughter’s return home to me.
from you & she drinking tea,
laughing, reminiscing. 8000 kilometres away.
in my mother’s room, the old woman
welcoming you as always. always.
like a son.
the thousand million kindnesses,
oily black coffee, fresh beans you ground
and steeped for me for 25 years,
each a yang to the yin of the pearls
I still wear, like the amber that drips
electric from around my neck, your love trapped
like ancient lavender moths caught
drinking from honey sap of a million years ago.
o, & i forgive the unfinishedness of violence,
paint & blood & forensic audit
that you & she made on me, pouring
over my expenses like i was the one
who killed us.
your black silk, Chinese dragons, gold, red-tongues licking across the dressing gown. the one I found. husband. hanging on the curtain rod of the room I made for her. soft. welcome for someone. so utterly motherless. so utterly without a home.
and i forgive.
your heads leaned in towards one another. over a Santa jigsaw puzzle I bought. to jolly us through Christmas. I, home early from the field.
her blood. on my yellow bedding. the satin shot with her. little bulls-eyes.
and God knows. what else.
on the way to you, while the prairie
hawk circled, circled, and the canola
grew thick, heavy, along the great highway no. 1
and the wheat that year was blond, blond as you
and that prairie sky, my God, that prairie sky
pierced blue and blue and blue
there I was
on my way to you
on my way to you.
oh the woods are dark and deep
the snow, the ice, steep river banks
and you, and you, lead me through
though I can barely walk though I
can barely, breathless talk, the winter
woods, so silent but for river rock
then river talks, it talks, we walk
through cedar, fir, the path so steep
the day is dusk, you give your hand,
until my stick appears, in duff,
I pick it up, then I gain strength,
then walk and walk til the opening,
hot springs, little canyon pools, so hot
and mud heat-heals my heart, in woods
so dark and deep, on a bridge we kiss
and we have miles to walk then loving sleep,
to keep, and so much more, of lovely sleep.