in memory of Maud Lewis
Rain drums on the roof,
slides down the window pane.
The clock ticks
like heavy footsteps on the stair
while outside a mourning dove
makes its plaintive call.
Bound by four walls
what does she do in times of privation
birds, butterflies and flowers,
colours gladdening mirrors?
What she gives is
tangibility and vigour
to see beyond the ordinary
to feel the pulse
Breadboxes. Bowls and pans.
The stairway softened
by blue flowers in black pots.
Once I wandered the familiar map of you,
traced the length of bone beneath skin so pale
I thought you would disappear.
I remember damp earth on your hands
when we dug potatoes in August,
harvesting the taste of summer for winter.
Now the rattle in your throat goes on and on,
a train set to jump the tracks.
Are we at a crossing then?
Perhaps in this very room, this station,
you will vanish like Muldoon’s Brownlee,
and I will be left to wonder
why you left and where you have gone.
Of Ojibwa descent, Mary Barnes is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and a winner of the Tom York Award for short fiction. She has written book reviews for The Antigonish Review and currently writes for Prairie Fire. Her poetry has appeared in literary journals such as the Prairie Journal, Tower Poetry Society, and Voicings. She also has a forthcoming book of poetry with At Bay Press. Inspirations for her writing come from the landscape of her youth and everyday encounters. Born in Parry Sound, she now lives in Wasaga Beach with her husband Bob and writes, gardens, and talks to the birds.