I hunt & find a creased note. Open, an olive leaf unfurls.
On a cream envelope I write your name. I say, I know
it’s been hard: the apartment silence. I tell you any small thing
I can think of. The plant living next to the one dying
on my shelf, my neighbors. I ask you, no answers needed.
I ask you every small thing I can think of. The orange sunrise
placemats you ordered. What you saw on your walk.
Any yellow chalk hands, footprints in soil. The drop off
in the lobby, your first face-to-face conversation in six weeks.
The seasons turning, we don't know what toward.
I want a part of me to arrive at your door. To find you-
I need to know I have not forgotten how
Self Portrait As Tent & Pot
Tent shoulders wake, damp with dawn dew. The birds
have been calling for hours. I drove twelve hours yesterday
through backroad graffiti & church marquees, through Virginia
forests cupping barns & family dollar stores. Under a hover
of silent feathers, drew up shelter. Splashed water, nearly ice
on my face, beer can empty on the bathroom sink.
This morning’s fire boiling water for tea, I tend oats
& apples. Auburn trees a half-cover, fabric skins
shaking in wind. Steam pictures in the cool air. The leaves
beginning to fall & fading grass spindles
a last drink. Crouching by the heat, I grasp a metal spoon
& stir the shallow dish. My body may travel miles
but hosts my same mind—the ever-gnaw of mind. Bone
& breath so slow to loosen. I am skilled, am I not brilliant
to match every land to my ache & stories? I wake the same
human, even in far countries, the scrape & wings.
You sit at the edge of a season. At the table nephew hands
& yours work together. A thousand puzzle pieces pile.
Through the window grey tomato stems crumple
under old snow weight. Vision toward tightens you
with the soap of a rubric gaze. You scrub yourself dry.
Possible tomorrows press you onward, thin & specific.
Tacked behind you on a cork board, seven plots
on a notepad leaf dotted with coffee slosh.
A small red door of hunger shakes as you fit a border piece,
you glimpse easily everything that is yellowed dusk
& done. Tiny fingers fumble. Flipped over cardboard
curves meet. A muddle of images form. See how
though not nearly finished, he raises his eyes,
races outside toward green & blue.
poetry was shortlisted for the Room 2020 poetry prize, and has been published or is forthcoming in various journals including Contemporary Verse 2, The Hopper, Channel, Prairie Fire, The Night Heron Barks, Inanna's Canadian Women Studies Journal, Recenter Press and Sunlight Press. Fran writes, grows vegetables and works at a mental health and addictions agency in Toronto, Canada. You can find her and more poems online at @fran.westwood (instagram)