Yesterday the air outside my office window was hazed with smoke from all the wildfires raging in BC, Alberta and here in Saskatchewan. The forecast for the summer is for more hot and dry weather. While other parts of the world deal with torrential flooding, new terms like heat dome and breaching the 1.5C threshold are making headlines. Then the wars as global tensions heat up as well.
How do we, as creators, respond? By coming to terms with our own grief? By embracing what is positive and beautiful? The theme of this issue, Just Stars Leaking, from Marilyn Bowring’s poem “Bank Account”—and many other pieces—suggests both, and something in between.
Sometimes emotions are dealt with obliquely, as they often are in real life. At other times the writers get the gods involved — Pegasus, Hermes, Zeus make cameo appearances. Then there is the playful work, all sun and sex and nomenclature. In Shelley Wood’s “Truth and Rhetoric,” did the affair in Greece really happen? These pieces remind us of the importance of taking a breath, a step back, a walk, of getting outside of ourselves.
And Maryline Lemaitre's artwork embodies the themes in this issue with lightness and brilliance. So, in the spirit of play, adventure, and taking a break from the news, I hope you enjoy your summer and this issue of Grain.
Mari-Lou Rowley, Editor
* * *
ARIA, AFTER BREAKFAST [Excerpt] | Shane Neilson
There’s no music that I can hear,
but you are dancing in the mirror
formed by glass that welcomes
the sun’s reflection. Part run,
part spin, your left arm rises
as if, being swan, you embody lift.
* * *
THE FAVOURITE DAY [Excerpt] | Brian Bartlett
Il faut imaginer Sysyphe heureux.
What a pile of lies they’ve told you—
I was never a rude host or a bully king
punished for tricking Death twice
(not that anyone could perform that feat
even once). Damned Homer got it wrong:
Ulysses wasn’t Laertes’ son, but mine.
* * *
INTERVIEW WITH A GREAT HORNED OWL [Excerpt] | dee Hobsbawn-Smith
What do you sing?
Profundo choral liturgy in Russian intercut with gravel,
Tom Waits crossing the river, fat gurgle of a baby, whisper
across the fallenbarn’s crossbeams, touch down lightly
on broken elms and abandoned farmsteads and vowels, avoid
glottals and consonants and cities.
* * *
DON’T LOOK BACK [Exerpt] | Lynda Williams
Dear Jesus, don’t let him hug me is my first thought when I spot him across the room. I wasn’t counting on being pressed up against Liam for hours in a receiving line, shaking people’s hands and accepting condolences I don’t care about. I parented my mother for thirty-five years, and I’m too exhausted to cry about her death. I am not too tired to notice that Liam looks as good in a suit as he does in flannel shirts and Carhartt pants. He’s six-two in stocking feet and even in heels I barely meet his shoulder. The sheer expanse of him is vexing. Kindhearted people shouldn’t come in such an attractive package.
* * *
A PICTURE LIVES BY COMPANIONSHIP [Excerpt] | Caleb Knight
for Mark Rothko
L asks if it’s generative or obsessive
when I tell her I can’t stop writing about you
how it’s making me late for everything
how it’s not even the paintings anymore
but how I didn’t know until after I’d started
that you died all alone on 69th street
how the critics called your artwork
* * *
IMPRESSIONS: HOW THINGS FIT [Excerpt] | kerry rawlinson
as fits the laughing girl in London who’s come to see
the Queen and take in the Changing of the Guards.
she curls inside the hard sculptured nostril of a
colossal bronzed horse, the entire head up-
ended above her, & smiles love, love,
love into her young husband’s
* * *
BABY, OH BABY [Excerpt] | Tim Blackett
It’s later than I’d like. Some lady on the TV—red-eyed and smiling like she’s getting away with something—is confessing that since her husband died, she has been carrying his ashes around with her, holding him, smelling him, tasting what’s left of him. Each day, she takes a pinch of him, slips it into her mouth and lets her saliva and the pressure of her tongue as it presses him against her cheeks, her teeth, the roof of her mouth, transforms him into a semi-solid ball, a pill she can swallow to rid herself, for a moment, of her relentless sorrow.
* * *
BANK ACCOUNT [Excerpt] | Marilyn Bowering
I said to the teller: “Let me give a true account of the rain:
all cars are painted dark, dust slides from windows.
I have been nowhere. Riches await me”
A raven flew from the branches of a fir tree
through a skylight and walked the polished marble
counter. I felt the gravel of its speech in my gristle,
the abacus of its claws as it shuffled for purchase.