Friday, September 29, 2006

The Harvest ~~ anna hood

On paydays when Pa didn't come home
Ma's high heels would beat a tattoo
from stove to back door as she flung
our supper into the yard.
Out would go the fish
the tatties and peas.
Pots, plates, forks and knives
heaved into the yellow porch light.
The dogs - we had 4 -
grinned on those Friday nights.

'The lot of you off to bed,' Ma'd say.
We'd climb into bed dirty,
little girl giggles ringin' from our tongues
free from the hated fish
free from the bath with the dreaded shampoo
Ma's fingers scrapin' and clawin' our heads
and us screechin' with the pain and shame of it all.
She'd holler up at us,
'I'll be up there after ye if ye don't quit
with yer carryin' on.' We'd cover our mouths
snortin' and chokin' with laughin'.

Pa'd come down the lane roarin' with the drink
singin' in his sweet tenor voice, some
sweet Irish tune that reminded him of home.
She'd be on him the minute his hand touched the door
cryin' and wailin' to beat the band.
Him full of apologies.
We'd listen from our big bed
knowing his hand
all callused and gentle
was strokin her hair
drying her eyes.
And promisin'
'By God! it'll never happen again my girl.
I swear.'

She'd forgive him of course
and later
after their laughter and murmurs stopped
we, my sisters and I, would sit
on the floor, elbows on the sill
watching the two of them
like faerie folk in the moonlight
harvesting pots and dishes
from the yard.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

This is my entry to Sam Wright's blog about his sister Jacquie
What a tender and enchanting idea. It spurred my imagination.
I was going to put a link here but I'll be damned if I can figure
out how to do it. but here is the address. I hope you will
all send him something. I can't wait to read the entries!

Hi Sam, I just got a phone call from my friend Anna. She said
you were looking for some stories about your sister Jacquie and
asked if I might have something you’d be interested in.
You know, I used to have Jacquie and Anna over for tea
about once a month.

Here’s a an old journal entry of the first time I met your sister.
I hope you can read my scribble.
And here’s their picture, that’s my Henry with them.
You may keep it if you like. I have an album full.

Sunday June 27th 1968

Oh fun fun day! This morning I called to invite my little
Anna for tea and she said asked if it would be okay if she
brought her girlfriend. Of course I said YES!

I spend all morning, worked like a dog, in that dining room
until it just gleamed. I dressed the table with Mummie’s
hand embroidered linen cloth. She’d be so proud to see
that room sparkling with her good china on that beautiful cloth.
The peonies are gorgeous this year and I arranged a
bouquet in the cut glass vase.

I was bathed and in my good navy silk when promptly
at three the doorbell rang. Henry and I invited
them in. He wore his purple feather boa –
kids get such a kick out of that silly old dog - and of course
he danced and sprang and leaped. I swear sparks flew
from his feet.

Anna must have told her friend that high tea is a dress up
affair as their mothers had them polished and garnished in
party dresses, their stick legs circled in lace, patent shoes
glossy as tar. Jacquie, this is the friend, holds out her hand
just like a duchess and get this, this kid is only six years old,
says my name is Jacquie – spelled the French way. She is missing
her two front teeth and has a delightful lisp. Her long hair
simply speaks of gardens. She observed the room and
said, ‘you have a gorgeous home.’ This kid is six!

My guests were careful not to clink or drip while sipping
honeyed tea, and crunching chocolate chip cookies. Jacquie
especially loved the ones with the tiny pieces of orange peel.
Puccini… not intrusive…played in the background. Henry, that
silly old dog threw his head back and wailed a soprano
accompaniment with Joan Sutherland. Jacquie raised
one eyebrow of disapproval. Apparently she has good taste in music.
We sipped and crunched around talk of puppies and kittens.
(they both would like a pet).

Tea finished I invited them into my closet:
Anna must have told about this little ritual as decorum
vanished as they raced for the prize: my red high heels!
I thought we might have a little bit of a todo as Anna
pounced on them first. I gave her that look only an
old maid school teacher has (good grief in this me!)
and she handed them over to our special guest then chose
the silver sling backs and even though I whispered to her
that they were much more expensive than the red ones a
tiny tear trembled on her lashes. Oh well that little
disappointment might make some of the bigger ones along
the way easier to bear. ‘It will be your turn, next time,’
I said. ‘Now come on it’s makeup time!

I think perhaps Jacquie’s mother might not approve
as the child looked a bit shocked as I painted blushed and
mascaraed Anna’s face. But not for long, she raised her
little face and I soon had her matching her friend.
They smiled their approval.

‘Now, get the loot,’ I said. Anna teetered off into the
closet and dragged out that pillowslip filled with the treasure.
Good Grief all that costume jewelry that Mummie brought home
from all those auctions she went to over the years.
I keep saying I’m going to have a yard sale and get
rid of all that junk but I don’t know if I could bear it.

They each took a corner and dumped! The bed sparkled with
rubies and diamonds and gold. Jacquie got the tiara, to go
with the red shoes. Anna the long ‘sapphire’ earrings.

Last week I was busy altering some of those fancy old nighties
for dress up. If I do say so myself they are quite enchanting
with the fronts cut short – I thought I might go blind hemming!
- and the backs trailing. Our old lace curtains from the house
on Elm St. were veils. So cute! When they were all gussied up we had
a fashion show with lemonade on the patio. I took their picture
posing beside the peonies with Henry. I hope it turns out.

Now they are gone, those darling, darling children; it seems
they’ve taken the light with them. Oh well I guess Henry will have to do.
He’s sitting there waiting patiently with his leash.

Goodnight Diary.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Anniversary ~~ anna hood

One headlamp pointed upward
sliced a merciless iron sky.
Moths skittered the yellow light
danced Foxy Ladies to a siren's blare.
Jimi Hendrix music bled
from the wounded car
a beetle in the ditch
tires spinning.
Cops in blue, faces
tight. One said, over and over
My God, my God
they're just kids. Another
Irish brogue, For Jasus sake
turn off that fekkin radio.

Onlookers stopped to gawk
fingered crosses, wiped tears
trampled stiff orange tongues
of Indian paintbrush, gave guilty
thanks it wasn't one
of their daughters 17 years old
like three piles of rumpled laundry
one shiny black, one blue, the other
red long legs narrow as veins
cluttering the blacktop.

Fir trees, ghosty in the gloom
paused their shiver
folded their branches
and listened
to the last silent laughter
of silly drunken girls.

Indian Paintbrush a wildflower
dyes my yard this time of year.
Reminds me of
Marsha, Steff, Patty
Foxy Ladies.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Old Loves ~~ anna hood

Her old man don't know
she braids 'em in her hair
ties each one behind
a shiny gold bead.
Hundreds of 'em.

Her old man don't know
she keeps 'em in her pockets
hidden among Tic Tacs
grocery lists

He don't know
they swim the crimson
pathways of her legs
and arms, that they part
the secret spot
he can't find.

She lets them out
at night when it's dark
enough to die
her skin technicolour
brazen as a peacock.

They kiss her
with wine hot lips
phantom tongues lick
her sweet juices.

Her old man grunts
reaches for her.
She sighs, tucks them away
her fingertips glowing
like pearls in the dark.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I have been sent this questionaire thing 3 times in as many days
I never do them but in this case - well these gals are pretty special
so here goes:

1. One book that changed your life?

Anne of Green Gables - I read it when I was about 8 and fell madly
in love with Anne and reading! I've never stopped.
(sometimes to the dismay of my husband)
Now I'd like to strangle Anne. Her freckled face smiles back at me from licence
plates and god know how many signs but never ever can I forget
her author Lucy Maude Montgomery for giving me the wonderful gift
of reading.

2. One book you have read more than once?

I have a long list but a favourite would be 'The English Patient'
I am mad about Michael Ondaatje - His poem The Cinnamon Peeler
is my most favourite poem of all times
Here is it: A treat
for those of you who know it
and for those of you who don't

THE CINNAMON PEELER by Michael Ondaatje
If I were a cinnamon peeler
I would ride your bed
and leave the yellow bark dust
on your pillow.

Your breasts and shoulders would reek
you could never walk through markets
without the profession of my fingers
floating over you. The blind would
stumble certain of whom they approached
though you might bathe
under rain gutters, monsoon.

Here on the upper thigh
at this smooth pasture
neighbor to your hair
or the crease
that cuts your back. This ankle.
You will be known among strangers
as the cinnamon peeler's wife.

I could hardly glance at you
before marriage
never touch you
-- your keen nosed mother, your rough brothers.
I buried my hands
in saffron, disguised them
over smoking tar,
helped the honey gatherers...

When we swam once
I touched you in water
and our bodies remained free,
you could hold me and be blind of smell.
You climbed the bank and said

this is how you touch other women
the grasscutter's wife, the lime burner's daughter.
And you searched your arms
for the missing perfume.

and knew

what good is it
to be the lime burner's daughter
left with no trace
as if not spoken to in an act of love
as if wounded without the pleasure of scar.

You touched
your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon
peeler's wife. Smell me.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

Raft Buiding for Dummies maybe or Long Distance Swimming for Dummies
but then of course I'd also need, 'How to Fend off Sharks'

4. One book that made you cry?

Airs about the Ground by Mary Stewart. I can feel tears pricking
my eyes even now as I think about it. In a nutshell:
Someone steals one of the Lippizaner Stallions.
Years later in a far away pasture this old piebald horse (He has been dyed)
is seen dancing to circus music.
Finally he is returned to his stable where fresh bedding is waiting
and his name is still over the door.
Ooh and can I ever forget Black Beauty?!

5. One book that made you laugh?

almost anything by John Irving.. any of the Reginal Hill, Pascoe and Dalziel
detective series

6. One book you wish had been written?

Harry Potter - can you imagine my bank acct??

7. One book you wish had never been written?

none I guess.. hate stuff maybe

8. One book you are currently reading?

A new Swedish detective series I have found by Ake Edwardson

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

I have a list a mile long but sitting waiting is:
The Professor and the Madman - Simon Winchester
A Natural History of the Senses - Diane Ackerman
2 mysteries by Eliz George
and another by Robert Wilson -- (he will be 1st)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

4:30 AM ~~ anna hood

The wind’s sharp elbows
rips open the envelope of sky
ruffles the neck feathers of
crows that are strung
along the branch of the old white ash.
They’re watching
eyes glinting like mad Russians
waiting for dawn, waiting
to pick the bones of the careless.
An old tom passes, dragging
his shadow through the greasy yellow light
that spills off the back porch.

The crows watch over the woman
prowling before first light
her chenille robe dripping dew
dripping smells, blood and puke, piss
Her face a watercolour, smashed rubies
blue and green, indigo.
Overhead an owl carries a small piece
of pulsing grey fur.

Inside he’s sleeping
all snug in his nest his face
as creased and folded as a lizard.
His dragon
tattoo curled around his throat.
Uncut. Unhurt.
Sleeping the sleep of the just.
Easy for him.
Yes, easy for him.

‘Don’t cry. Don’t,’
she whispers, lips puffed.
Then she bends and throws a pebble.
Dawn breaks into tiny pieces
of shiny black birds.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Let Me Tell You About the Dark ~~ anna hood

It's raining again
the moon sliding
into the sea.
Her white darkness
filling the bay
coating the wet thighs
of the river bank
slipping over the
cave made by the broken pines.
It slides across the skin
of the pond over the still
sleeping koi.

The night is full of archangels
their terrible white wings
rouged with night.
Do you hear them?
Michael's sword
clashing at unseen evils
and owls, bats slipping
from level to level
radar pinging off
jagged spangled stars
that float in the path
of ghosts.

I'm never afraid in the dark
afraid like some people
that every speck of them
might disappear
even their shadow
swallowed up
because this is when he comes
and takes me
his arms hard and smooth
as a piece of washed beach glass.
And he kisses me
his throat a vibrating cello.
He steals my breath.

Now tell me
what do you know
about the dark?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Self Portrait ~~ anna hood

I am swimming
in my self portrait
swimming in a navy blue sea blue
green with icebergs.
Someone once called them cathedrals
of the deep. It wasn't me
although I wish it was. Probably Merwin
it sounds like him.

Around me the navy sea bristles
with the clash of Viking swords.
Thor sends boxcars of sound
swinging from his giant hammer
beating time with whale songs
belugas, the white singers
canaries of the St Lawrence
heavy with toxins
heavy with warning
sweet faced Belugas
singing their song.

Above me
in an aura borealis sky
the dog star, Sirius
migrates south across
the rainbow bowl of the sky
vibrating with the trumpets
of swans, and the whistles
of swans, and the mute
swans who do not speak
except with their singing

In this self portrait
I am swimming
Icebergs melting
onto my dining room floor.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wind Chimes ~~ anna hood

Remember Saree,
remember nights after he'd gone
how you'd perch high
above, on your balcony in the trees
and whistle, 'Coast is clear. Come over.'
and I'd come

Taking the stairs two
at a time. For a moment, just
a moment, in the liquid
green tree-top, our lips
would print secrets on crystal
glasses and we'd swirl
wine red as Satan. Horned
owls would listen and somewhere far
off in the night a wild dog
would bark. Later

We'd lie
on your smooth white bed and eat
biscotti. You'd feed me bits
of wine drenched cookies - I'd suck
your fingers while we listened to the dead
singer you liked wailin' bluesy
from the radio, her whiskey voice circling
the ceiling with painted gold stars, mixing
with our smoke, her magnolia voice dripping
onto us, onto the white ironed sheets. Your leg
on mine. Cinnamon on cream.

It's been twenty years. Twenty
years since you fed me cookies
soaked in wine. Twenty
years since those tree-top nights.
I still want you.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Come Visit Me ~~ anna hood

Come visit me here
on the Island we'll sit
under the overhang
of the back veranda
where citronella candles gutter
in their own melt
in widowed saucers
and pickle jar lids
in red and white soup cans
where overhead burned out stars
implode undetected
by the radar of swooping
brown bats

Come to me when
darkness falls
when spiders are busy
weaving webs of dew
the dog will snore
under the porch swing
the river will reach her arm
into the baywhere fisher boats
tug crusty tethers
you'll swallow salt
swallow the silence
the scent of the flowering
mock orange bush
my grandmother planted
swallow my neighbours'
bar-b-q smoke
they'll invite you over

I don't like Toronto hot
with noise melting black tar
roads thick with cars
windows up ACs blasting
stereos blaring
dead elms
and exhaust fumes
What do you know
city slicker
of freshly mown hay
sweet clover where red hens
strut and cluck
scratch for beetles
of horses racing snorting
pawing red clay roads
and cows chew cuds
chlorophyll green?

Come visit me
on a soft Island night
you can return the book
I loaned you
ten years ago.