From the Archive: Joy Russell

Born in Belize, Joy Russell is a poet, playwright and writer.  Her writing has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Best of Canadian Poetry in English, Tenth Anniversary Edition, Canadian LiteratureCrab Orchard Review and The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry.  She currently lives in North Vancouver.

Vigil

Here, the body,
as sentence, conducts
a treading, never touching
the bottom, yet all
things submerge here.
The mouth of the city
speaks you in, its gesture
mapped on a grid of sorrow,
the old brick crumbling its own
fable day by day. You see, I came
to the city briefed in its ways, my
childhood resurrected by Lime Cordial
Earl Grey and Salad Cream; the BBC;
a million coronations; a cacophony
of British marching bands; how
de say Queenie ate rat when
she come to Belize. Yes, I
came to know the tiny shifts
spoken by the eyes, the minute
violences of lips souring as milk.
I re-studied the thing that killed
the autumn trace of light
in my parents’ generation
I made weapons of my words,
watched the Thames,
daily, nightly, for clues.

What Comes Between

Careless.

Been forgetting names, entries
to the city, incapacitated recollections

of streets born to
ask where are you from?

this heart of amnesia
takes broken journeys to windows

marks faces as appearances
in momentary sun

makes map dissolve words primoridal

what lingers is not fact
only detail of buildings, things said

before,
slippery
after.

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