I am liquid and slippery shiny
mercury in my blood
I can’t stay in one form
for long. Light refracts me
bends me, spoon in drinking
glass. I shed that shape, shift
on broken bedsprings,
Charge and recharge from
the circuit; clear the way
for the next
Dark night, solo
(published in Freefall XXII Number 2, Spring / Summer 2012)
The sheets are too agitated, it is a siege here.
Feel how white the dark is, how silent, how buckled-in.
I am quelling wakefulness, curled in on myself
As shadows curl on this white duvet, this room, these breaths.
I am supplicant; I have nothing to do with avalanches.
I offer my books and my day-thoughts up to the hours.
They will trap my poise between the latch and doorframe
Like paper between two white hands that will not let go.
Crumpled parchment, it needs to hold everything in.
The hours eke and eke, they yield no hurry,
They rise the way waves rise inland, on their white cliffs
Making shush with their breath, one just the same as another.
My prayers are like eggshells to them, they crush them as cats
Crush the bones of birds they’re over toying, breaking them delicately.
They tell me hopeless in their bright voices, they tell me lies.
Now I have woken myself, I am sick with failure --
My patent leather stiletto shoe like a concertina,
My mistakes and flaws peering out of the family history;
Nobody despised me before, now I am despised.
The sheets cling to me, and the shapes behind me
Where all night the shadows flicker slowly towards dance,
And I find myself, dimly reflected, a cut-lace figure
Between paper of the window and paper of the sheets,
And I have no value, I have learned to devalue myself.
(published in Sage, Pachyderm Poets, Adar Press, 2011)
When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,
We shall be a mighty kindness (Rumi, “Zero Circle”)
This morning I saw a fox sprint across a sweep of lawn
by the lake. My dog, rooting
out smells in the fallen leaves, ignored it.
A pared-down, shucked-shell moment
and a screaking open.
Once I expected to step through a door like that
into green hills and unclouded horizons. I thought arrival,
I thought forever. I still catch myself believing
a switch will flip, and I’ll become a peeled shrimp of a self.
But what crucible or frying pan, what marinade would make me?
I will not set. I can’t stay gelled.
The moment never stays. Bright blue
gasps of sky, light glinting off glasses of red wine,
the silky pull of lake water as my hands
move me through it.
Here is the bio: Frances Boyle’s poetry and fiction appears in The New Quarterly, Vallum, Arc, Prairie Fire, CV2, Fiddlehead, Room, Ottawater, Freefall , CV2, Moonset and elsewhere, and in anthologies on form poetry, Hitchcock, love poetry, and daughters remembering their mothers. Prizes she’s received include This Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt and Arc’s Diana Brebner Prize. She lives and writes in Ottawa, where she is a member of the Ruby Tuesday and Other Tongues writing groups, and serves on the editorial board for Arc Poetry Magazine.