The following poems were published in untethered magazine in Winter 2016.
untethered is a Toronto-based magazine edited by Nicole Haldoupis and Stephanie McKechnie.
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.
He was six years old
out with his father
just the two men,
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,
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