The warmth left behind

Slow waking:
      snuggling across the bed to the valley
      of a warm body shape
      left behind in the winter warm flannel sheets

      sliding the dog’s abandoned bed, green quilted pad
      to its day time space beneath the frosty window,
      bare feet on the hardwood floor
      savouring the lasting imprint of his warmth left behind

Moving down:
      lying in a daughter’s rumpled red-sheeted bed
      as her shower songs come to ear
      night time dream heat still radiating warmth

      slipping along the snowy sidewalk, down to the tunnel
      settling into a recently occupied yellow plastic seat
      thankful for the stranger’s warmth left behind

Celia Haig-Brown © 2005

The Seagull Woman

Everyday she comes:
while I sit at computer thinking tiny thoughts and recording them
for later use by some expectant reader.

green Smithrite, crows stacked up around it, blue and yellow shiny plastics tossed carelessly, molten scraps of paper sinking into the sopping ground

A slim child, she comes, long red hair lifting a little in the breeze.

(Thank god the sun is shining, albeit weakly, today. She has abandoned the winter boots and the salvaged umbrella. Today her pale cotton skirt makes her look even more a slim child.)

I saw her once up close, gazed into a face which did not see mine. Not a child, she is a growing old—razor thin— translucent skin letting the skull details show through.)

She’s been a long time at the dumpster down the road. The pickings must be good today.

And now she’s coming: I, as always, wonder what to do.

I want to throw the window open on this first spring day
calling out in true familiarity

“How are you? Isn’t it grand winter’s over?”

But somehow I know that those pale blue eyes would look though me
She knows I can never feel her meaning to my words,
the meaning of a winter being over for this life of outdoor work.

Instead I feel I must avert my eyes
pretend none of this is happening
she does not exist

Somedays now we others grudgingly notice the bag ladies and the psychotics who stumble through our downtown garbage. But not here, not in Point Grey, not at the university, not a slim young girl who comes every day for a year now…

Beside this garbage bin, where the squirrels scamper, sit the shiny cars of the fraternity brothers, still sleeping soundly, supposed to be in class today.

This job complete, she turns and bearing her bags as if they contained the take of a day’s shopping in fashionable and
expensive stores steps daintily away to continue her calling.

I turn back to mine and wonder what this means
for me, my children and the world.

Celia Haig-Brown © 1990

Get well card


I will weave you a web of words
   a nest of silken threads
   a silver hammock

to cradle you
   and hold you safe and warm
   suspended in time and space
   just for a moment

a place to rest your heart
   calm the pounding
   incessant cardiac demands

Ah, feel the sun on your skin
   on your back
   see the care-infused threads that hold you

smell the warmth
   healing penetrating
   love moving in...

Grow strong

Celia Haig-Brown © 1992

April 1977

Nothing matters
As much as the muscles moving in the belly
Visible now even through clothes...

(the people in the room fade;
the voice recedes to distant rumble)

take over sound and space

Breathing frames constriction
Warmth flowing through tautness
stretching, pushing, tightening.

Celia Haig-Brown © 1977


Learning Differences

I am learning to say subway instead of sky train
board walk instead of sea wall
(although I see some of the "boards" are made of concrete not

I am learning to say lake instead of ocean.

but on the last day of November walking on the boardwalk
this could be either beach:
the greyness is the same and the solitude.

How soon these Eastern people confine themselves to
buildings, houses and apartments
perhaps sitting near a propane fire place
on a peacefilled Sunday afternoon
or in front of a television set
or hanging out at the mall
where late twentieth century North America has brought us
a home away from home,
familiar repetition from town to town to city,
the only form of community we know for sure
(and that "we" is all of us--across classes and races and all those other things):
bright colours, endless consumption, a world of artificial needs.

but back to the beach which is a lakeside one, not an ocean beach
the inevitable discolouration of late fall:
leafless darkend trees, only a trace of red in their bark,
grey-brown sand,
grey-blue water lapping at the somber shore,
and endless grey sky seemingly displaced
from the Pacific Coast.

Why were we taught such subtlety is not beauty:

a dark duck farther out in the water
sleek grey gulls overhead on fall search
looking down the lake to all those places--Mississauga, Etobicoke, Toornto
good words, words of the land and the original peoples--
now caught in grey: high rises, boardwalk, sea, land, and sky.

I am learning to say lake instead of ocean.

Celia Haig-Brown © 2000

Celia Haig-Brown ~ Last updated: 03-Apr-2007