Louise Carson

Suite: This was beautiful to me

for A.H.C.


This was beautiful to me
allowed and disallowed

the sun allowed it but
the people under the sun didn’t

they insisted on the real
while the sun encouraged an ideal

his name meant
‘the sun’



No one could be more different
from me than you: fog and sun

you lived for your family, you said
yet this was your favourite picture of yourself

dressed in black
bent over red roses

you kept it locked in
with your other important papers



Likewise in a formal rose garden
built to overlook the lake

we followed our noses
bent and straightened like chickens picking dirt

first the look then the scent
then the dip to greet them

all the odours of that day were of you



The slow walk back to your home
after our evenings

shining, we attracted attention
neighbours, women especially, wanted to be near us

the summer of our openness
the first summer



The first time you cooked for me
you used my hibachi at the park

looking for the perfect spot, we passed
other Asians with large extended families

you loved Middle Eastern food and brought:
six spicy chicken legs, six falafel, six

shish-ke-bab and six shish-ta-ouk
plus salads

there were only me and you
and I was full after one falafel

how many others there were at that picnic
I could not see



For some time after we met
I would be driving along

would look into the rear view mirror
and meet your stern gaze

I would be delighted, would grin and wave
later would speak of the luck of lovers

you would turn your cab away
go back to work

much later you told me
you’d been checking my faithfulness



For a long time you were coy
about the scar

it circled the bicep
made hideous your upper left arm

was it from torture? prison?
you were claiming refugee status

this gave you an idea
and you had me map your body

I wrote down and photographed
all the brown blotches for your file

finally you told me another story

how you were a strong child
a wrestler

how your father rubbed you with oil
after your bath to keep you supple

but that you became ill
and the village doctor

tied off your arm
with cord

did he bleed you?

you don’t remember
but he left the cord on for days

and your parents were afraid
to untie it

so it, the scar, became
a part of the cure

for which the doctor received
great credit



That’s what I always liked about you
you accepted my need for orchids

something that beautiful
had a right to be expensive

also for my books you had respect
though you thought I read too much

don’t think so much, you’d say
if I can’t think I may as well be dead, I’d shout

still I’m glad we agreed
on the importance of the flowers



After your first heart attack
you wept as you watched Dr. Zhivago
watch Lara pass unseeing on a train
on my tiny black and white tv

I didn’t dare join you
one casualty was enough
our daughter needed me



I’m not proud
of my ability to retreat
like all great generals
or at least the ones
that live to retire

I retreat from him
the last time we meet
our daughter
perched between us
no anger left
just cold failure

and we shake hands
but he holds hands
with our friend
as the two of them
walk her garden and talk

and that’s ok
because he’s sick
he’s deathly sick
and what do I do?
I turn
and gallop away

Louise Carson's poetry has been published most recently in Grain, Event and Queen's Quarterly, and in The Best Canadian Poetry 2013. Her collection A Clearing came out with Signature Editions in 2015. Her latest mystery The Cat Between (Signature) and novel Measured: Book Two of The Chronicles of Deasil Widdy (Broken Rules Press) dropped this fall. In Which: Book One of The Chronicles of Deasil Widdy is shortlisted for a QWF Young Adult Literature Prize.