Diving in

What happens when I go – twice! – to a phenomenal exhibition, Anselm Kiefer at the Royal Academy, and feel compelled to write to the artist. Since I didn’t have his address, I wrote a poem instead.

1.031 words/Nov. 2014

Below is a series of poems written during various workshops. They came fully formed in about 10-15 minutes and I didn’t rewrite them afterwards. The beauty of writing in inspiring settings such as Kettle’s Yard

Boxed ?

Mine is a box of lies. Big, fat, shimmering lies.
The ones I’ve carefully constructed.
The ones that sprung out of my mouth, saving me from chores and obligations.

Mine is a box of truths.
For all lies have truth in them, even the fattest ones.
Two sides, one coin. And how easy it is to flip it!

Mine is a box of love, filled with unspoken gems and clumsy declarations.
In truth and lies, I have always loved.

Mine isn’t a box at all. But who’s to know?
For I lie more than I love and lies are too precious to hide.


A whisper, sharp and slithery.
Barely born, yet already lodged in his ear, brain and memory.
A tumour of doubt growing every minute, with every effort to ignore it.
Five words, five poisoned arrows aimed at him
with a precision that speaks of cold calculation and a pain that needs company.


I blink, just once, and there you are in front of me. Smiling from a distance.
The afternoon sun is in my face. Yours, I have to imagine.

I blink again and you are still there.
I’m trying hard not to run in your direction and grab hold of you.
Instead, I wait and let me eyes grow accustomed to the coloured spots here and there and to the dizziness that threatens to engulf me.

I blink and realize I have been holding my breath.
I’m not sure I know how to breathe anymore.
You are there, not moving. The smile has gone. Or is my eyesight betraying me already?

I blink and take a step. Not thinking about the consequences, obviously.
You’re there, but seem further than ever. How can that be?

I blink and it takes all my energy no to run to you, not to force an embrace.
The effort has left me weak. My hands are so tightly rolled into fists that all ten fingernails have dug little indents into the flesh.

I blink and feel a pain so familiar, so overwhelming I almost faint.
I’m looking at your shape slowly dissolving in front of me and know that, once more, my body, my sight, my heart and my brain have betrayed me.


Ready to bounce, body tilted forward, his back legs stretched,
Ears alert, waiting for the early signs of her arrival.
Ten toes, tip-toes, the time is near, the toddler’s approaching,
Will she see him or be distracted by the light reflected in the flat sphere?
Ten toes, tip-toes, the time is near, the toddler’s approaching,
Will she be alone, ready to cuddle, cajole and cling to?
Ten toes, tip-toes, the time is near, the toddler’s approaching,
Red truck, bright and heavy, she brings her favourite toy,
brushes past him, plodding along, happy and humming.


Burnished gold, tattered Sun.
Our satellite through coreless winter.
The likes of us, in situ.
The kugluktuks, caribous, Frobishers and Nimrods,
Indefatigable, yet doomed.
With our twin-bladed hearts, our crampons, our endurance.
What are we searching for?
We, the catchpenny fools, we, gripers, we rock hoppers,
waiting for the seismographic shake.
What will this facsimile of a life bring?


I saw iridescent clouds melting in the sky,
I saw a Sami Shaman striking a pose,
I saw the artic burial to be mine when I die,
I saw a sad woman with a blue hat holding a rose.
I saw seals, penguins and bears gathered together in silence,
I saw lava bombs breaking the beautiful ice,
I saw four companions bowing in reverence,
I saw your eyes, sparkling, just before throwing the dice.


Calling you – I am
Wishing you – were mine always
Seeing you – trapped in ice, your sharpened features frozen forever
Wanting you – here, now
Imagining you – sailing back to me
Judging you – the pain, the loss you have bequeathed me

Calling you – again. You, me, there is no other possibility
Wishing you – had taken me along
Seeing you – sighing your last breath, your eyes fixed on me
Wanting you – to have died right after me
Imagining you – always loving me
Judging you – for thinking that there was more elsewhere

Calling you – again
Calling you – in vain
Calling you – there is just me