Little Anne Running, Big Anne Shopping & Another Anne’s Mysterious Visiting Birds

Little Anne runs from flower to flower to flower
honey-haired happy every minute every hour.
Big Anne shops successfully and hardly stops.
Another Anne’s house abounds with the evening sounds and even words
of mysterious visiting birds.

*

Little Anne tosses sticks into River Thames
this is one of her camping games.
Big Anne reads on the beach and lets the waves reach her.
Another Anne says, ‘Well Polly how pretty you are.’ And ‘Just
listen to that canary up there.’

*

Little Anne Running, Big Anne shopping and reading on the beach,
Another Anne tending her mysterious visiting birds;
These Annes appear in different strips, unknown each to each,
so make their first acquaintance here in a blur of words.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1984

“Little Anne Running” first appeared in The Martha Landscapes, available from Brick Books. Later the poem was set to music by Oliver Whitehead and featured in Adam Corrigan Holowitz’s play Colleening (2013).

 

Colleen’s granddaughter Edie Reaney Chunn (August 2000) (Photo by Yuki Imamura)
Colleen’s St. Thomas friend June Rose on a visit to London, Ontario (Summer 1974)
June Rose and Colleen Thibaudeau, Port Stanley, Ontario (Summer 1990)

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “There’s a waterfall in Iceland”

Poem

There’s a waterfall in Iceland
That cries by the thousandsful,
even on a postcard, it’s forever saying,
don’t fear again, horseman, ride on,
I’ll do the crying for you.

Mr Kopf burnt off his wintergrass
it was exciting when the wind changed
and he had to phone up his brother-in-law;
for a day or so it showed black
now you can’t see it for the new growth.

Saturday morning riders shyed away
from my pampas grass going up.
We all like fires and we all like waterfalls
and the brown days when the gulls chase unseen
excitement over the fields.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1969

Postcard of Skógarfoss, a waterfall on the Skógá River in Iceland, sent to Colleen by her friend Karin (Summer 1969)
“Skógarfoss: One of the highest and most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland…”

“There’s a waterfall in Iceland” was first published in Poetry (Chicago) CXV, 3 (Dec. 1969), 169. It also appears in The Artemesia Book (1991), available from Brick Books.

For more about Skógarfoss, see the Katla Geopark page: http://www.katlageopark.com/geosites/skogarfoss/

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “Aristide Bruant au Honey Dew”

Aristide Bruant au Honey Dew

Deep in Lautrec’s lovely eyes
Struggles the surge of violet seas;
Well bred ladydogs sniffing the Musakladen airs
Put him at unease.

It is an hour of tea; furs
Unfold their brown orchids in the smoke;
From each sweet claw dangles the little dagger
Too indolent for stroke.

Waitresses wear their cup-coloured clothing
To conceal a violence like artificial hydrangeas;
Eyes that should have been running rivers into lakes together
Pass as desert strangers.

O for Bruant to come blasphemous, talking up ready storms,
Raging to give the waiting girls their cue
To come forth all clatter and vile orange welcome, and to put
An absinthe in each Honey Dew.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1948

Chanson réaliste singer Aristide Bruant (1851-1925) in a portrait by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, courtesy wikipedia.org

“Aristide Bruant au Honey Dew” first appeared in Contemporary Verse (35, Summer 1951) and can also be found in The Artemesia Book (1991), available from Brick Books.

Toronto’s Honey Dew Restaurant (1948) was on the mezzanine level of the Odeon Carlton Theatre (20 Carlton Street near Yonge).

 

“The Clock Tower” by Colleen Thibaudeau

The Clock Tower

When they pull my clock tower down
I will no longer walk this town.

At night her lucent face is seen
Homely and bright as margarine,

And when I wake when I should sleep
Sounds her Ding Bong sweet
And heart-sticking as the Knife-Man’s cry
When his squeaking cart goes by.

Children, chickens,
Matrons with baskets, old men with sticks, all stop
to gawk at my clock;

The shock-headed with the frost
Kid who sells papers, the popcorn man
Buttery knuckled, the shifter of ashcans,

Firebugs, tire-stealers, track fixers for the TTC,
Somnambulists, commune with me —

And we all move and love
To the grace of her sweet face.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1949

First published in The Canadian Forum (30, July 1950), “The Clock Tower” also appears in The Wind Has Wings: Poems from Canada, an anthology of poems for children published by Oxford University Press in 1968.

"The Clock Tower" by Colleen Thibaudeau from the Oxford University Press anthology The Wind Has Wings (1968).
“The Clock Tower” by Colleen Thibaudeau from the Oxford University Press anthology The Wind Has Wings (1968). The clock tower illustration is by Elizabeth Cleaver.
The Wind Has Wings: Poems from Canada, 1968, Oxford University Press. Compiled by Mary Alice Downie and Barbara Robertson; illustrated by Elizabeth Cleaver. (ISBN-0-19-540026-7)
The Wind Has Wings: Poems from Canada, 1968, Oxford University Press. Compiled by Mary Alice Downie and Barbara Robertson; illustrated by Elizabeth Cleaver. (ISBN-0-19-540026-7)

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “Aroha’s Fossil”

Aroha’s Fossil

Aroha’s fossil goes clear through the washing cycle
still in the pocket of her wrangler jeans
and comes out deepsea clean & pure as
someone’s eyes are seas who’s
fallen right through the world
(straight through to China as we used to say)

Keelhauling, gutting, name it —
nothing of that shows.

She says, hey here’s my fossil back and
warms it in her hand.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1972

“Aroha’s Fossil” is from The Artemesia Book (1991), available from Brick Books.

>>> Listen to Angela Graham read “Aroha’s Fossil” here.

Susan Reaney (age 10) July 1969, Point No Point, BC. (Photo by Colleen Thibaudeau)
Susan Reaney (age 10) June 1969, Victoria, BC. (Photo by Colleen Thibaudeau)

For more about the poem, see Maureen Scott Harris‘s essay “The Unfolding Present: Rereading Colleen Thibaudeau” in Brick Books Celebration of Canadian Poetry.

The Dieppe Gardens Poems

“The Dieppe Gardens Poems” is one of Colleen Thibaudeau‘s poems from The Martha Landscapes (1984), available from Brick Books.

The Dieppe Gardens Poems

Eugene and Peter read their poems
about Dieppe Gardens, Windsor,
a September evening, here in London.

Dieppe Gardens, it’s not a park where I’ve walked,
but I remember the news of it coming — Dieppe — it came over the fences,
(field by field, farm by farm): “bad news from home.”

Someone called and we would leave off hoeing,
go to the fence, and there, crying or trying not to cry,
a Windsor girl asking us to pass bad news along

though all the lists not in… We threw ourselves at the ground,
and that day passed, (half-hope half-fear) as if just striving
might somehow balance out the half-knowing.

A time of drought: the fine dust caked our hair; our cracked
hands, blunt fingers scrabbled to put right
a bent plant; all was more bitter-precious on that day.

Evening came; on the gravel we walked barefoot, asking,
(field by field, farm by farm), could we use the phone,
but nothing changed: only “bad news from home”

day halved slowly into night.     Your words,
Peter and Eugene, go active into memories long stilled,
and I am filled with wonder for the walkers there
in Dieppe Gardens now.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1984

Note from Susan Reaney: In the poem, Colleen Thibaudeau recalls her own war-time experience working as a volunteer farm labourer for the Ontario Farm Service Force in August 1942 near Windsor, Ontario. The Dieppe Gardens in Windsor, Ontario are named in memory of the many members of the Essex-Kent Scottish Regiment who lost their lives during the World War II landing at Dieppe, France on August 19, 1942.

August 2010: One ton of beach stones were sent from Ville de Dieppe, France, and installed in the Dieppe Memorial in Windsor, Ontario. (Photo courtesy The Windsor Star)
August 1942: Ontario Farm Service Force volunteer workers near Windsor, Ontario. (Photo courtesy The Estate of Colleen Thibaudeau)
August 1942: Colleen Thibaudeau (centre, age 16) was a volunteer farm worker that summer on a farm near Windsor, Ontario. (Photo courtesy The Estate of Colleen Thibaudeau)

 

 

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “White Bracelets”

White Bracelets

we all have old scars
and sometimes in winter
I can still see what was
white bracelets
(let’s call them white bracelets
just as my grandmother used to say
when we fell down steep stairways,
stop crying or you’ll miss hearing
the stairs—they’re still dancing)
what was once white bracelets
what before that showed pink
what before that was raw & festering
what before that was agony
down to the bones
what before that was
almost blacked out
& being dragged by the tractor
in the barbed wire
what before that was
surprise & yelling:
can’t you STOP  STOP
what before that was
lying in the grass
reading a blue letter
looking up into sun & clouds
that were riffed
and quiet like white bracelets.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1971

“White Bracelets” is from The Artemesia Book (1991) and available from Brick Books.

∞♥∞♥∞♥∞

Note from Susan Reaney:  Stan Dragland, poet and novelist, has high praise for Colleen Thibaudeau’s poetry in his new book The Bricoleur and His Sentences:

“Thibaudeau may be diffident about her process, but her leaping poems stretch wide from the domestic to the mythic and do so as naturally as if they had not actually been written but somehow just occurred. And I have never had the pleasure of editing any writer whose work called for less alteration.” (page 29)

 

 

G.G. and Elizabeth at Port

G.G. AND ELIZABETH AT PORT

Elizabeth (four) would fete Mackie’s 75th anniversary
just as often as the car would get there.

Her “G.G.,” great-grandmother, also
favours Mackie’s, especially the “Specialty Sauce”

on chips. In sunlight sharp as Mackie’s Orange,
they sit together – eighty years seems not to separate

for both love waves, love water. “I could look forever, couldn’t you?”

That Sunday, though, their eyes harden,
for the waves are black, flung up coal dredged from the lake bottom.

“It is as if beasts are leaping out of the foam,”
G.G. shivers.    Elizabeth, only: “Let’s go home.”

 Colleen Thibaudeau, 1986

Colleen Thibaudeau’s poem “G.G. and Elizabeth at Port” is from The Patricia Album and Other Poems (1992).

GGElizabeth1986
Alice Pryce Thibaudeau (age 85), Colleen Thibaudeau’s mother, with her great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Reaney (age 4), August 1986 in Port Stanley, Ontario.
Mackie's at Port Stanley, Ontario.
Mackie’s at Port Stanley, Ontario.
Elizabeth Wallace Reaney, Colleen's granddaughter, at Port Stanley, August 1986
Elizabeth Wallace Reaney, Colleen’s granddaughter, at Port Stanley, August 1986

 

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “The Glass Cupboard”

The Glass Cupboard

Lights from the Highway sparser, softer now
and the Gorst lights gone and their house gone
away,
just lost rib to new life in dark seas,
just dark seven sleepers gone seasabout the foot of our hill,
just the foot of the hill and a great cave opening up.

Lights from the glass cupboard !spark! the house dark;
And it’s up to the glass cupboard now! It looms
at James’ headheight, three paces from the kitchen sink,
one from table, length approximately my armspan, crafted
by an Albertan who loved the bush, the hills.

The Bay Highway kindles to blue Italian grotto glasses;
and green glasses, safe-and-wide as Sweden; and cheap
little ruby liqueurs sing; and cocktail Libbys supermart
violent and fresh from fists that swung axes, pounded down a territory
and rolled Malcolm Lowry into the soundmad surf dazzling no warning…

By an Albertan who loved the bush, the hills,
who made this cupboard ark that tends the tides
of dream. They light, they guard the house,
glow like an icon of Mike Todd, thirty-odd glasses,
touched off by random headlights moving toward the Bay.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1969

“The Glass Cupboard” is from The Martha Landscapes (1984), now back in print and available from Brick Books.

 

The Martha Landscapes by Colleen Thibaudeau, 1984.
The Martha Landscapes by Colleen Thibaudeau, 1984.

Colleen Thibaudeau in Grey County: “Big Trees”

To celebrate National Poetry Month, the community news website The Flesherton has published Colleen’s poem “Big Trees” about her childhood days in Grey County, Ontario.

Big Trees

Our backyard is beautiful to-night:
I could replant every tree
put it into its proper saucer of snow:
mr by mrs/ great-uncle by great-aunt;

I light out from an old photo, cross careless
before paving days into your yard
where winds are rocking a hammock,
wintertime moonlight & twigs,

(broom & unbuckle) and in handknit stockings from Ireland
now I’m skating icicletoed on the kitchen lino
past the black & silver kitchen stove
— just let it blast my middle — till

I see her, graybrown tree of the past,
rocking with her crochetflowers laid in rows,
and I see him, flannel shirt, grey sweatercoat,
newspaper & Bible, glasses there at hand.

*

you know, I was so small then, I let
your winds & waters rock me round
and couldn’t talk enough to tell you
– Big Trees, I like to be with you to-night.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1971

“Big Trees” appears in The Artemesia Book (1991), available from Brick Books. For more about Colleen’s early days in Grey County, see Colleen Thibaudeau: A Biographical Sketch by Jean McKay.

 

Near Flesherton, Ontario; courtesy The Flesherton, 2014
Near Flesherton, Ontario; courtesy The Flesherton, 2014