nothing. Knows better. Watches the dog and me,
licking her paws.
Keeps her own counsel. Lives inside snow, inside forest,
inside darkening sky.
Pities us, tied together like captives. That lighted cage
from which we emerged
blinds the stars. What do we navigate by? Baffled,
we must stumble and grope.
Listen, fox says with her taut body. Smell. Notice
silence and not-silence. Quiver and leaf.
Somewhere inside you a warm furred body
is waiting to get out.
That each word can be sold. Each fox. Each blade of grass
as soon as a price is decided on.
Is a fox worth more than a word? It depends
on whether it’s the last fox.
The longest words are the cheapest.
Stone tastes better in the mouth than infinity.
Our shrewd neighbour bought all the words for blue.
Since then the sky has changed colour.
Open the gridded air with the can opener.
Lift out each heart.
What we didn’t notice has vanished.
The shape of a baby’s earlobe. Snow at sunset.
POEM ON AN IMAGINARY PAINTING
In the corner a star
from which the painting unravels:
the woman who sits on a blue chair,
the man who kneels at the foot of a ladder,
the dog at a window, gazing out.
Released from the brush, they must have something to tell us,
having come all that way.
Patricia Robertson’s third short fiction collection, Hour of the Crab, is forthcoming from Goose Lane in 2020. She won the international Aesthetica Creative Writing Award for Poetry in 2018.