© 2016-2018 by Catherine J. Stewart
Website designed and Wix-built by
Lesley Kenny.

The following poems were published in untethered magazine in Winter 2016.

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untethered is a Toronto-based magazine edited by Nicole Haldoupis and Stephanie McKechnie.

Trains

 

Before the rooster, the train

shuddered the house awake

a hundred feet

from the tracks.

~

Coal trains from Fernie,

black smears along the river,

an echo down the valley

between the Rockies and Purcells.

~

It was a wheat train that derailed

on the corner by my aunt's house,

broken red cars disgorged gold

over the coal dust.  We came

with our gunny sacks,

my parents, brother, sisters

my aunt and her kids,

second cousins.  We came to the heat

of the sun, the itch of chaff,

the soft slur of the kernels sliding

from scoop to sack.

 

For years afterwards the trains slowed

before that corner and my cousins

would run alongside, one moment

their worn sneakers slapping 

against the stony rail bed,

the next airborne and scrabbling

for a grip on the box car ladders.

For a moment

                   they could go anywhere.

Apples

 

He was six years old

out with his father

just the two men,

picking apples.

 

He remembers the black surprise of the dew

on his brown leather shoes,

the leaf gold ground,

the shiny tin pails overflowing.

How round and red the apples,

how sweet.

 

On the way home they stopped

at the Golden Arms Hotel,

“just for a minute,”

but he waited so long

that he had to pee and went inside

to the bathroom in the lobby

next to the bar.

 

Looking out the window he saw them

five older boys in the truck bed

cramming his apples in their pockets.

 

He pounded on the door of the bar

pounded ’til someone came

and fetched his father. He pointed

to the truck, begged

to go home. But behind the door

there was still beer

in his father’s glass, a cigarette

in the ashtray.

 

He sat alone in the truck

with cold hands and feet,

the buckets in the back

and the apples –

small and scabbed

and few.