Poetry Lifeline

UntitledPoetry is my diary. I’ve been sifting through my poems and realized I can identify specific events and distinct phases in my life. There are breakup poems, angry feminist rants, and deliberately obscure pieces from my “literary” period, among others.

Reading them now is like reviewing the pages of a journal written from childhood through adolescence to early adulthood. Some are cringe-worthy, others are entertaining, and one or two still make me sad. Here are a few of my favourites:

Our Separation (2004)

We pause at the window of the ferry car deck
to watch shadows on the surface of the water
chase each other across the waves like dolphinsIn this place we share our separationA distant beacon swings its light towards us
before turning away once more to pierce
the darkness between the islands

The ferry horn bellows twice
and when the echo of this interruption fades
we are alone with the humming engine
the whispering sea
and the steady rhythm of our breath

Lifeline (2005)

Which one is your lifeline?

I can never remember
which of the three deep lines
coursing across your palm

The curved one that branches at the end
or one of the two running parallel
never touching

I trace them with my fingertips
while you sleep

This long line striking out
diagonally from your thumb
is out of place
shaped like a bolt of lightning
it intersects

Do you dream of the line between us
the separation of the drowning from
the drowned?

I need to find your lifeline
to see whether it forks at the end
it will tell us how many
children you will have
or whether your life will be cut short

I can never remember

Tight-Laced (2006)

My corset is made of air,
stronger than steel or bone
and self-laced to shape me like a tube.

What better way to purge this hourglass?

You know,
Ms. Granger holds the record,
tight-laced to fifteen now and counting,
but I have no use for her corsetiere.

To be the hand within the glove
must have some appeal.

would Warhol craft
a stylized portrait to commemorate
the corset joining him in death?

To protect, support, heal:
this at least has merit.

Invisible and resilient,
my corset does not hold me in or back,
but rejects compression into
this shape you have defined for me.

Olfactory (2007)

What am I to make of such a word?
These syllables and right angles
are too logical to define his curse.

I am like the loofa still reeking of his soap,
the fragrance I chose refusing to wash away.

Some perfumes will mask the scent,
a splash of citrus or the heady aroma
of night-blooming flowers.

But like the sponge,
I have drawn his scent too deeply into myself.

The Latin is better: olfactorius.
An insensitive flourish,
a hint of emperor and the
cruel curve of his lips.

Need (2008)

what do I want from you
who knows
what I even want from myself

floating between these poles
weightless but sinking with need
it has become our cross to bear

and so we steal what little is left
while you born with entitlement
in your wailing mouth
complain of suffocation

well ask me if i will take pity
ask me if i will worry and nurse
when now not even strength
is offered in return

you have created this burden
we need because you lack
we take because you cannot give

go ahead try to turn this around
i will refract to create a new angle
fainter but with my form intact


© Jennifer Bertrand, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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