Oct 082012
 

Micheline Maylor writes poems with dash and élan, attack poems, full of desire, heart, dangerous men and revenge. A woman ties her husband to the kitchen chair and whips him with the letters of former lovers (and he watches the “black serpent of her hair flickering its tongue down her back”). “I Was a Pack of Dogs Last Night” is a gorgeous orchestration of dream, desire, dogs hunting, and the epic squeeze of time as the grains of sand drop through the funnel of the hour-glass. These lines make you ache with envy.

And for a second, just a second, sand tucked itself into itself
to pass through the gullet of the time keeper
and for that second, that one squeeze of time
the totality of hunt crushed my ribs with its bite
and I stopped in recognition the way a woman might stop
at a grocery store or a light
to see a lover at a distance…

Micheline Maylor is by way of becoming an old friend, though we’ve never met (a deficiency soon to be rectified since she’ll be introducing me Wednesday night at Wordfest in Calgary). She comes from Windsor, Ontario, but lives in Calgary where she writes poetry, teaches writing at Mount Royal University and edits FreeFall Magazine. Her first collection Full Depth: The Raymond Knister Poems was published in 2007. (Raymond Knister was an early 20th century Ontario poet, story writer and novelist, something of a cult figure in Canadian literary circles for his early promise and the tragic way he died. His daughter used to live in Waterford, dg’s hometown.) She has a new collection due out in 2013. It’s a huge pleasure to have her back on the pages of Numéro Cinq.

dg

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Even the Done

Marisol tied her husband, Juan, to a kitchen chair and with the letters of her ex-lovers she inflicted deep paper cuts in his skin. On the third day he begged her unfairness. He pleaded to her. Marisol sliced with a quote from Carlo’s pen,

“You were eternally beautiful in the garden last night,
when you kissed me, only then, the stars took flight.”

Juan asked for Marisol to look at her clothes, look across her garden that he had sown for her. He gestured to his work, his provisions, all for her. Marisol nipped a letter into the corner of his eye until he bled a tear. “You tell me no sweet things, Juan. I will never forgive you.”  Juan protested then remembered his necessary words, the demands, the could yous, the would yous, the will yous, and the nos. He surrendered, said nothing more. She continued to slice him each morning then brought him warm supper in the evening so he wouldn’t lose his strength. Marisol did not relent. On the twentieth day, Juan watched through the window as his crop wrinkled in the late August heat. He watched the spell her hips cast as she left him wounded, the black serpent of her hair flickering its tongue down her back. Still, he said nothing except with his eyes.

Eventually, even the edges of love notes brought from lovers become dull. Juan’s skin toughened. The letters no longer bled him weak. In his defiance, Marisol remembered the blush in Juan’s cheek, watched his forearms taut on the chair, and remembered his bedroom sigh in her ear. The lovers’ notes were not as warm as she recalled. Juan’s pain was no longer red. She asked Juan if he’d had enough and he answered, ‘the wind blows only softness into my heart for you, Marisol.’ She untied the rope and when he rose, he held her and called her “precious” and “ darling” and “love”. He looked out the window at his ruined crop and unkept walk. With his chin nestled in her scented hair, “My angel,” he said, “even this can be undone.” He remembered sweet words then. He’d learned that much.

§

 

I was a pack of dogs last night

I was a pack of dogs last night,
in my dreams, moving as one.
A solitary mind, the pack, chuffing at the hunt
and it might be fair to say the hunt was meat
but I knew the hunt was something else,
something ethereal, something more substantial,
less brutish, less blood,
something impossible to grasp with teeth or paw.

We, or should I say I? Whatever the semantics, we moved as grains
of sand through the belly of the hourglass and just as fast
towards a mound of shiver-light and intuition. We already felt satisfaction
in our throats, that fat satisfaction as it sometimes sits
under stars, summer feisty in the air.

And somehow, though no audible sound yipped aloud,
somehow I was one and all,
all speed, all fur, all dogs, all one,
and led them like organs follow bone and muscle to places they wouldn’t go alone.
Somehow I knew this journey was mine to lead,
to bounty, to consequence, both mine and ours.
And for a second, just a second, sand tucked itself into itself
to pass through the gullet of the time keeper
and for that second, that one squeeze of time
the totality of hunt crushed my ribs with its bite
and I stopped in recognition the way a woman might stop
at a grocery store or a light
to see a lover at a distance with a new lover or child,
long enough to accept a different choice in a different moment
might never have led to this present
a present with a new future in it. And I thought of you.
That night. That rightness in our fingers ranging. And your hands tell the whole story for just that moment, that finite spark of time, that small balance
where glass narrows.

I stopped long enough to look at that choice, that grain of time,
before it fell out of sight. I must have stopped longer than I thought,
for the pack cued nose to haunch in stalactite shapes
and those black muzzled swimmers nudged me on. And we, the pack, ran on.
We and I, the pack ran as one into a forest of light, paw after paw striding the dirt.
Nothing to fear. The anxiety of moment lifted into the flow, under our feet,
into the slip of time, out of your hands. And I, and we pant, and they, and I pant,
each leaf under paw, over grain, a tint of yellow, of green, of red, of day,
a day in a life, a leaf underfoot, a colour, a memory, a molecule, a pack, and the pack ranges on, in this surrender to time, in this finite hourglass, though that narrow tip between all things done and undone.

§

 

Mercury

When Rob said, look at this,
he snapped the bottom off a glass thermometer.
Mercury bled into his hand
while adults downstairs conversed.

He snapped the bottom off a glass thermometer.
Ebb and flow in laughter
while adults downstairs conversed,
he whispered, quicksilver.

Ebb and flow in laughter,
down his heart-line, up his life-line,
he whispered, quicksilver
until his hot fingers tipped the ball

down his heart-line, up his life line
into my palm and I felt it slide
until his hot fingers tipped the ball
down my life-line, up my heart-line

into my palm and I felt it slide.
It’s poisonous, you know.
Down my life-line, up my heart-line.
Get it in your mouth and it can kill you

It’s poisonous, you know.
Then he darted his tongue
Get it in your mouth and it can kill you.
He tasted his own skin where the mercury had been,

then he darted his tongue
his eyes never moving from mine.
I tasted my skin where the mercury had been.
I let the ball roll into a pop-bottle cap

his eyes never moving from mine
did the same with my own tongue.
I let the ball roll into a pop-bottle cap
with my quaking hand.

I did the same with my own tongue.
And certain death never came
at my own hand.
Me and him, eye to eye

certain death never came
in the bedroom of
me and him, eye to eye,
my first dangerous man.

— Micheline Maylor

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Micheline Maylor’s  newest collection titled Whirr and Click is due with Frontenac House in spring of 2013. Her recent publication Starfish, a chapbook with Rubicon Press, sold out in 2011. She became a recent graduate of the May Studio at the Banff Centre in 2010. She was named honourable mention in the UK’s 2007 Petra Kenny poetry awards. She has upcoming fiction and poetry in The Shyness Anthology, and Stampede Noir Anthology. Her latest works can be found in the Planet Earth Poetry Anthology, University of Las Vegas Review, and The Freshwater Pearls Anthology. She attained a BA with honours at the University of Calgary in English, a Masters degree with distinction in creative writing at Lancaster in Northern England, and a Ph.D. at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in English Language and Literature with a specialisation in Creative Writing and 20th Century Canadian Literature. She has been the recipient of the Overseas Research Scholarship, the International Research Scholarship and Alberta Foundation for the Art grants. She has poetry published in over 70 journals in 5 countries. A certified poetry fanatic, she teaches creative writing, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and composition at Mount Royal University. She serves as the President and co-founder of Freefall Literary Society, and is the editor of FreeFall literary magazine: www.freefallmagazine.ca. Her first book is titled Full Depth: The Raymond Knister Poems (2007) and is available through Wolsak & Wynn www.wolsakandwynn.ca.

  2 Responses to “Even the Done: Poems — Micheline Maylor”

  1. Quicksilver-slivers of novels, stories unleashed in terse, budgeted images with haunting cadences unleashed.

  2. So edgy and eloquent. Riveting.

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