The Gift of Donovan

A frigid November day in Barrie, Ontario, 1967,

Wednesday, I remember;

We had just come from Novena Devotions.

Mark led me downtown to the town’s one record store,

“For a surprise,” he said.

 

The proprietor was in on this, I soon realized,

watching him head

to the stacks of wooden slots on the wall

and retrieve a 45 disc in its small paper sleeve.

 

The needle on the vinyl

dispensed a melody through the small shop,

And then Donovan’s innocent accented voice,

Colour sky havana lake

Colour sky rose carmethene

Alizarian crimson…

 

Next, the bewitching refrain,

Lord, kiss me once more

Fill me with song

Allah, kiss me once more

That I may, that I may…

 

Wear my love like heaven…

 

Worlds, colours I had not yet heard of,

at the age of 15.

 

Yet, I sensed the magic of which he sang.

 

I went on to my life, Mark to his.

 

Not long after he died, still a young man,

never giving me the chance to thank him for his gifts that day,

for seeing me in a way I had never seen myself,

as a girl worthy of devotion,

for giving me,

in that dead-end town,

an impossibly beautiful song.

To a friend on leaving Eleuthera

You’ve come to know her secrets,

The quiet recesses of her,

Where she tucks away her sea glass,

How her oleander smells after the rain.

You know the particular colour of light

That ladles itself across Cupid’s Cay at dusk,

The creak and sway of her cargo ships,

Loaded, inching their way into the harbour.
You know her tides, her impetuousness, her fury,

Her hundred shades of blues and greens,

The open smiles of her children,

The unadulterated solace of her.

You know her expectant sunrises,

her bittersweet setting suns, too,

The content in returning, weary,

Time and again,

to her open embrace.
All of this,

You take with you today,

The moments, the years with her that helped shape you,

And she will rest deep within you,

Intact, a part of all that you are,

For the remainder of your days.

Thirst

The sun was hotter:
You can tell.
Look at the people squinting against it in photos then.
Everything washed out by glare: Faces, thoughts,
All detail surrendered.
We could be anybody.

The gardens are parched,
Look at them.
It hurt to walk on the grass.
Everyone burned raw.
We lay in barren backyards
slathering butter on our chests,
Chain-smoking and eating fluorescent cheesies,
Swilling scarlet soda.

Nothing could go wrong.
Caution was ahead of us.
Men were above us,
Landing on the moon.

There’s Always the Guy.

There’s always the guy
At pub closing time
Mall food courts
Wedding dinners.

He wants to sit you down
Straighten you out.
Tell you how things work.
You have it all wrong, you see.
He laughs in your face.

You listen
Because it’s late, or it’s early,
You have nowhere to go
And no one waiting.

His oldest kid is 27, hasn’t seen him in years,
but good riddance.
And three exes,
somewhere.
Hey, where do you think you’re going?
He’s yelling at your back.
Wait. Honey.
Let me tell you about love.

Relay for Life

I have been committed emotionally to the Cancer Society’s Relay for Life since losing my mother far too many years ago to stomach cancer. My lovely Scottish mother was my touchstone and I miss her every day of my life. As a poet I pour much of my grief into my work – just as I did when I lost my father the year following. I think my poetry helped save my life (yet again) in those dark days after both were taken from me too young. If you’d like to read some of these poems I wrote about their lives visit my website at http://www.triciamccallum.com Once on my homepage choose the heading entitled “Time Was”on the left hand side menu bar. I would love you to come and visit. Some day when you find some quiet time. And bring a cup of hot tea.

Sadly, my commitment to helping stop this modern day scourge was forged even deeper this past year when I learned my younger brother had been diagnosed with Stage Three colon cancer. The news was devastating for all of us, hitting us like a bolt out of the blue, in particular his young family. He has just completed a six-month course of chemo and soldiers on with such an upbeat wonderful attitude he humbles me. He jokes and makes light of it all, making it easier for everyone who loves him. And many do. We all pray he remains in remission.

Once

For my very first post, I chose a poem I wrote last week that is close to my heart, entitled “Once.”

Once

Never the one you think
Never the one that should.
Never the right time
Or enough time.
Never again the sweet lull
of the day-to-day.

No more easy solace
Or just passing time.
No more the open-ended chat
The breezy how are you
The unburdened goodbye.

Never again
The unbridled laughter
The unfettered innocence
The making sense.
Never again the sweet lull
of the day-to-day.