We approached the settlement.
Tamaracks bowed in the wind, in formal wear.
Polar bears patrolled the perimeter.
Except they weren't tamaracks or polar bears --
we just have no words for what they are.
You looked at the sun through welding glass
and said the ancient bird ate it, its own egg.
Eventually your darkness was relieved
only by the gold outline the bird left behind.
Fear of stale air and endless commands I can't obey.
Metal-backed animals quick as the edge of winter
on countertops, under the engine, running across my back
and the landing gear, revealed by movement.
They're the mute smoothness of grey pearls,
sleek as promises of heaven.
Snow blows through the hatch, which won't close.
Behind me are deep drifts.
The mic stays on despite your silences.
Copyright © 2002 Joanne Merriam
Joanne Merriam is a Canadian poet and novelist living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her work has recently appeared in The Antigonish Review, The Fiddlehead, and Orbis Quarterly International. She is currently working on a novel. For more about her, visit her website.