The warmth left behind
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
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
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
love moving in...
Celia Haig-Brown © 1992
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
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-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