Karen Solie reads Migration
Migration, by Karen Solie
– for Cathy
Snow is falling, snagging its points on frayed
surfaces. There’s lightning
over Lake Ontario, Erie. In the great central
cities, debt accumulates along baseboards
like hair. Many things were good
while they lasted. Long dance halls
of neighbourhoods under the trees,
the qualified fellow-feeling no less genuine
for it. West are silent frozen fields and wheels
of wind. In the north, frost is measured
in vertical feet, and you sleep sitting because it hurts
less. It’s not winter for long. In April
shall the tax collector flower forth, and language
upend its papers looking for an entry adequate
to the sliced smell of budding
poplars. The sausage man will contrive
once more to block the sidewalk with his truck,
and though it’s illegal to idle one’s engine
for more than three minutes, every one of us will idle
like hell. After all that’s happened. We’re all
that’s left. In fall, the Arctic tern will fly
12,500 miles to Antarctica as it did every year
you were alive. It navigates by the sun and stars.
It tracks the earth’s magnetic fields
Sensitively as a compass needle and lives
on what it finds. I don’t understand it either.
From Pigeon, by Karen Solie
Copyright © 2009 Karen Solie
Karen Solie reads Sturgeon
Sturgeon, by Karen Solie
Jackfish and walleye circle like clouds as he strains
the silt floor of his pool, a lost lure in his lip,
Five of Diamonds, River Runt, Lazy Ike,
or a simple spoon, feeding
a slow disease of rust through his body’s quiet armour.
Kin to caviar, he’s an oily mudfish. Inedible.
Indelible. Ancient grunt of sea
in a warm prairie river, prehistory a third eye in his head.
He rests, and time passes as water and sand
through the long throat of him, in a hiss, as thoughts
of food. We take our guilts
to his valley and dump them in,
give him quicksilver to corrode his fins, weed killer,
gas oil mix, wrap him in poison arms.
Our bottom feeder,
On an afternoon mean as a hook we hauled him
up to his nightmare of us and laughed
at his ugliness, soft sucker mouth opening,
closing on air that must have felt like ground glass,
left him to die with disdain
for what we could not consume.
And when he began to heave and thrash over yards of rock
to the water’s edge and, unbelievably, in,
we couldn’t hold him though we were teenaged
and bigger than everything. Could not contain
the old current he had for a mind, its pull,
and his body a muscle called river, called spawn.
From Short Haul Engine, by Karen Solie
Copyright © Karen Solie 2001.