Selected Poetry by Caroline Misner
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
I haven’t breathed in seven months,
standing here on this mushy stump,
a pad of plush moss
beneath my gummy boots
glazed with soft runoff
from the spring.
I have never known such purity
as in these humbled waters.
I inhale their tang, balloon my lungs
with a bittersweetness I’ve forgotten.
I saw waxy petals sprout
from a carpet of
brittle needles today,
frail as porcelain and
just as translucent.
I can’t believe anything could thrive
under such conditions.
So much tenacity to keep growing,
without wilting, without
the least indefatigable doubt.
All my loved ones
are dropping away,
and still you talk of death.
I can’t tolerate another loss.
I’m not as strong as I like to think,
toughened like an apricot dried in the sun,
or the carcass of a trout
in the water’s dull flap upon the shore.
I will always cling to the doubt.
I ordered this—
this plastic jar full of plastic youth
to erase the strings that are strangling my eyes.
It arrived in the mailbox
right on time,
I praised its punctuality.
I don’t know why I bother;
he still says I’m beautiful after all these years,
filling me with his platitudes;
he thinks I’m so unaware.
It must be my vanity then,
for the girl who drowned her image
in every mirror she passed,
ignorant of the encroachment
of old age—
or worse—middle age,
tacking up on her like a hiker scaling Everest.
My grandmother was my age when I was born
and she died when I was ten.
The strings of her apron
bulged her waist
but she wore it like a shield,
stringing laundry beside the chicken coop,
to near transparency,
washed in water cranked
from an iron pump
and boiled in a kettle
on the wood stove.
As children my cousins
and I pilfered
little nubs of half-grown
carrots and tiny
green pearls still in their pods
destined for soup, from her garden.
She pretended she didn’t know.
Hard work never troubled her,
even in the steamy grinds
of the factories
the communists forced her to work in
after they took her bakery away.
It was every citizen’s
duty back then.
Her round face was smooth
as a moon,
even when she smiled,
which was often,
despite the heavy life she carried on her shoulders
with a stiffened dignity.
She never lamented her life,
The mint leaves display
their full herbage
now, in late August when mornings
fade the mists on the
lake that linger
too long, and the
days chip minutes
away from their casts.
Even the cicadas
and crickets are sluggish
with their songs.
The sun descends
earlier now, behind
the roof of the inn, though the leaves glimmer
shards of gold and green among
their reflections. The wind is bored
with such trivialities.
You sit in the mint
patch by the back door,
an upright blossom
among so many
spiky green horizontals.
We speak of the
ghosts that glitter in
the halls and how
we glimpse figures
that blink out when
we avert our eyes;
I’ve heard of the
little girl who drowned
in the lake and now sits at the end
of the caretaker’s bed, opening
the doorway of her blemished perspectives.
Distracted by our conversation,
three brittle blades of
from the weedy lawn,
stiff as rheumatic knees
on a windy day,
into a loose braid softened
by the ministrations of your fingers.
The fibres bend as you swivel the cable
round my wrist and
secure it with a knot;
I adore it because you made it with your hands
and you tell me how much you missed me
while I was gone and
I adore your laughter
tingling the air like the
from the spout of a watering can.
There was green before the unimaginable carnage,
and there were trees and villages, a
church steeple too pure to reach the heavens, a
dull brown clapboard house with amber-eyed
daisies clustered at its base, farms and meadows.
spacious verdigris as broad and deep as a sea
where lovers unpeeled beneath constellations
named for the ancient gods—
so unaware of how hopeless they’d become.
The corpses beneath the stilled lawns remember this,
old bones blasted to smithereens, the flesh of their
children long since gone.
They rest in unmarked quietude,
the white stick crosses
on their graves
crushed like matchsticks beneath
the reptilian feet of artillery;
children threw rocks at the tanks—
so unaware their bliss was temporary.
Such an absence of color now, the insensible green
washed in a monochrome landscape, dull as
pewter; whatever is left standing
stands hunched and
crooked like the backs
of the spinster aunts
who stayed behind
after the others either fled or perished.
The wind funnels their cries,
all the vanished souls—
so unaware of how fleeting the green could be.
I am a graduate of Sheridan College of Applied Arts & Technology with a diploma in Media Arts Writing. My poetry, fiction and non-fiction have appeared in several journals throughout the USA, Canada, India and the UK, too numerous to mention here. I’ve also had work published in several anthologies and webzines.
In 2009 I was nominated for the prestigious Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Anthology Prize as well a Pushcart Prize in 2010 and 2011. In 2004 my novella received Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. A short story was also a finalist in the same contest. A novel, The Glass Cocoon was a semi-finalist for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award the following year. My novella The Watchmaker was published in November 2011 by Vagabondage Press and is selling well in e-book format. My YA fantasy novel “The Daughters of Eldox: Book I: The Alicorn” has been released by Whiskey Creek Press to positive reviews and the sequel entitled The Daughters of Eldox, Book II: The Other was released in the spring of 2016. My historical novel entitled The Spoon Asylum was recently released by Thistledown Press in May 2018 and has been nominated for numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Award.