First Moose

 
Dumbstruck in the deadlock of our stare
nothing dim in the hot-stink of her breath
snorted through the kitchen window-screen
then the routine of my mother at the stove-top
slow-cooking crackling bacon and runny poached eggs
the hard edge of a wooden seat cutting-off the blood below
my knees, the ice-cold burning in my feet, a sense of something
strangely absent (antlers, calves, a mate?), early sunlight reflecting
off the last patch of snow, the meltwater guttering away in thawed troughs
of earth, tree-buds loosening their fontanelles, opening their pastels like door
after door of Easter churchgoers, a wash of cyan and tiffany, French and water lily rose
morning’s bird-song bathing our small congregation like hymns we’d sung the day before
I watched her body disappear into a swathe of shadow, that first of Spring, my grandmother’s last

*

I watched her body, that first of spring, disappear into a swathe of shadow, as my grandmother’s
had the day before, morning’s bird-song bathing our small congregation like hymns we’d sung
beneath a sky washed in tifanny and water lily rose, those same Easter pastels blooming
in the yard, tree-buds loosening their fontanelles and opening like doors, troughs
of thawed earth guttering away the meltwater, a last snow-patch reflecting
early sunlight, that sudden absence creating the strange sense of some-
thing changed (an ice-cold burning in my feet, the blood cutting-
off below my knees from the hard edge of a wooden seat?)
crackling bacon and runny poached eggs slow-cooking
on the stove, then the broken routine of my mother
turning to me at the kitchen window, nothing
but hot tears and dimness filling those eyes
dumbstruck in the deadlock of our stare

 

 

 

Tarn MacArthur is the recipient of a grant from the Québec Council of Arts and Letters, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Award, and the Nancy and Walter Kidd Fellowship in Creative Writing at the University of Oregon. His poems have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in New Statesman and The Harlequin. He currently lives in Edinburgh, where he is researching his family history on St. Kilda, and working on his first collection of poems.

Header photo of female moose courtesy Shutterstock.

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