Conjugating To Be
Don’t expect different, my older sister said
but I did. Each French class I prayed
for the orderliness of grammar:
noun and adjective agreements,
tenses, futur simple, je serai,
but nothing made the hour bearable,
not the rumours of a dead fiancé
or how a broken heart leads
to crazy. Mlle Giroux kept slipping
from the subjunctive to the frenetic,
monologues on bugs. Bugs
in pantries, in panties, old mattresses.
The day the pointer slammed my desk,
the teacher’s face came close to mine,
her cracked lips opening, closing,
my sister wondered if it was stupid
or brave of me to shout, “Enough
with cockroaches.” She thought stupid,
but I heard the voice I never used in class
flare out, apart from me and I was glad.
Coveting the Yellow Cow
The dairy cow, being a cow, understands
ordinary. She’d be at home in our flat,
bring a burst of sunlight to a drizzly
winter morning, you adding milk
to coffee, me swirling it through porridge.
The cow being an exuberant yellow
will divine our state. See how her head’s up,
ears back, eyes blissfully shut, her mouth
kissable, smiling. Even her voluptuous body
curves into a smile. She’ll greet our return
each evening with joyous abandon,
all four legs lifting off —this is happiness,
and to think, as the guidebook
points out, she might be the artist’s wife.
Yellow Cow (Gelbe Kuh), Franz Marc, 1911, Oil on canvas.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
We scatter what we have of you,
hear your voice and don’t call the willows
weeping even though they are. Here
none of you sinks. You as grit
light enough to float. You as ashes
spangle my fingers, coat, hair.
Above us a yellow warbler sings out,
maybe to his mate, sweet sweet sweeter
than sweet, while all your clingy bits
urge me to carry you uptown, as if
minuscule offering, as if street theatre
at Richmond and Main. One more time!
For the populace we’ll dance, mime,
raise the happiness index. Come sundown,
sweet sweet, I’ll take this all home.
Louisa Howerow’s latest poems appeared in Mom Egg Review, Sliver of Stone and The Fiddlehead. Her poetry has also been included in anthologies, most recently, I Found It at the Movies: An Anthology of Film Poems (Guernica Editions) and Imaginarium 3: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (ChiZine Publications).