A Wake

Liz Howard

copyright ©2016

Your eyes open the night’s slow static at a loss
to explain this place you’ve returned to from above;
cedar along a broken shore, twisting in a wake of fog.

I’ve lived in rooms with others, of no place and no mind
trying to bind a self inside the contagion of words while
your eyes open the night’s slow static. At a loss

to understand all that I cannot say, as if you came
upon the infinite simply by thinking and it was
a shore of broken cedar twisting in a wake of fog.

If I moan from an animal throat it is in hope you
will return to me what I lost learning to speak.
Your eyes open the night’s slow static at a loss

to ever know the true terminus of doubt, the limits of skin.
As long as you hold me I am doubled from without and within:
a wake of fog unbroken, a shore of twisted cedar.

I will press myself into potential, into your breath,
and maybe what was lost will return in sleep once I see
your eyes open into the night’s slow static, at a loss.
Broken on a shore of cedar. We twist in a wake of fog. 

Notes on the Poem

This National Indigenous Month, we celebrate voices and poetry that speak to the pluralities of Indigenous identities. Following Jordan Abel, this week’s poem is “A Wake” by the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize Canadian winner, Liz Howard from Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent (McClelland & Stewart), a collection “filled with energy and magic, suspended between competing inheritances, at home in their hyper-modern hybridity” (Judge’s citation). We also invite you to check out Liz Howard’s latest book, Letters in a Bruised Cosmos (2021) (McClelland & Stewart) “Invoking the knowledge histories of Western and Indigenous astrophysical science, Howard takes us on a breakneck river course of radiant and perilous survival in which we are invited to ‘reforge [ourselves] inside tomorrow’s humidex’. Part autobiography, part philosophical puzzlement, part love song, Letters in a Bruised Cosmos is a book that once read will not soon be forgotten.“ Learn more about Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent in this Jacket2 interview. Listen to Liz Howard read from her collection for the Griffin Poetry Prize

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