Archives: poem

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “Letter Eight”

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “Letter Eight”

Letter Eight

Place was that piece of ground between house and swing,
yielding to the foot,
covered with reddened strawberry leaves
and that small vine that isn’t wintergreen.

Among the cedars, some of them struggling still like old limbo dancers,

covered with a lighter green lichen,

there on the day that William Faulkner died I came and stood
and even if I had not willed it so, down my head would have gone down,

thinking definitely about something:
God, how I love this little part of ground.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1974

Near Jericho Beach, Vancouver, BC February 2017

Near Jericho Beach, February 2017

 

“Letter Eight” is from Colleen Thibaudeau’s elegiac sequence Ten Letters (1975) available from Brick Books. The Ten Letters sequence also appears in The Artemesia Book (1991).

((( ο )))  Listen to Jean McKay read “Letter Eight” here: https://audioboom.com/posts/886698-jean-mckay-reads-letter-eight-by-colleen-thibaudeau-from-the-artemesia-book-poems-selected-and-new

Colleen Thibaudeau, Summer 1977 in London, Ontario

Colleen Thibaudeau, Summer 1977 in London, Ontario

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

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 (age 4) August 2000

Colleen’s granddaughter Edie Reaney Chunn (August 2000) (Photo by Yuki Imamura)

Colleen's friend June Rose on a visit to London, Ontario (Summer 1974)

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)

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 Skógafoss, a waterfall on the Skógá River in Iceland, sent to Colleen by her friend Karin (1970)

Postcard of Skógarfoss, a waterfall on the Skógá River in Iceland, sent to Colleen by her friend Karin (Summer 1969)

"Skógafoss: One of the highest and most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland..."

“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/

The Artemesia Book: Poems Selected and New, Brick Books, 1991.

The Artemesia Book: Poems Selected and New, Brick Books, 1991.

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “My granddaughters are combing out their long hair”

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “My granddaughters are combing out their long hair”

My granddaughters are combing out their long hair

my granddaughters are combing out their long hair sitting at night
on the rocks in Venezuela       they have watched their babes
falling like white birds from the last of the treetop cradles
they have buried them in their hearts where they will never forget
to keep on singing them the old songs

brought down to earth they use twigs, flint scrapers acadian
their laughter underground makes the thyme flower in darkness

my granddaughters are thin as fishbones & hornfooted but they are
always beautiful under the stars: like little asian paperthings
they seem to open outward into their own waterbowl

mornings they waken to Light’s chink ricocheting
off an old Black’s Harbour sardinecan.

Reduce them the last evangelines make them part of the stars.

my granddaughters are coming out by night combing their burr
coloured hair by the rocks and streamtrickle in Venzuela
they are burnt out as falling stars but they laugh
and keep on singing them the old songs.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1977

“My granddaughters are combing out their long hair” is from The Artemesia Book (1991), available from Brick Books.

>>> Listen to Peggy Roffey read the poem here.

Colleen Thibaudeau, Summer 1977 in London, Ontario

Colleen Thibaudeau, Summer 1977 in London, Ontario

The Artemesia Book: Poems Selected and New, Brick Books, 1991.

The Artemesia Book: Poems Selected and New, Brick Books, 1991.

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “Aristide Bruant au Honey Dew”

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:

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” 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”

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) Summer 1969, Victoria, BC. Photo by Colleen Thibaudeau.

Susan Reaney (age 10) June 1969, Victoria, BC. (Photo by Colleen Thibaudeau)

Susan Reaney (age 10) May 1969, Victoria, BC. Photo by Colleen Thibaudeau.

Susan Reaney (age 10) July 1969, Point No Point, 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

“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 1942: Ontario Labour Force volunteer farm workers. Courtesy The Estate of Colleen Thibaudeau.

August 1942: Ontario Farm Service Force volunteer workers near Windsor, Ontario. (Photo ourtesy The Estate of Colleen Thibaudeau)

August 1942 near Windsor: Colleen Thibaudeau (age 16) was a volunteer farm worker. 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

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

 

© 2017 Colleen Thibaudeau