The Rusty Toque | Issue 11 | Poetry | November 30, 2016
I tongued the street
and it told me who’d died. For those who weren’t sick, I asked why, how, as if knowing could make it reversible. A woman walked here, and then she didn’t anymore: that’s it. Justice is
for the living. I tongued the street again and heard a different language: a man who died a living death. A man who was our friend, and then was not. We saw it but we didn’t see it
well enough. He teetered down the curb and our fingertips feathered him straight for a time.
I'd like to have a body
like a gun. Long and narrow, smooth and cold and steel, amenable to gunpowder. I am soft like a cushion, wide then narrow then wide. I once tried on a dress and a mother in the changing room covered her daughter’s eyes and gasped.
The only time I’ve used my couch—the couch is for leisure—was to offer a woman from StatsCan a place to sit. And yet my body insists. My body offers comfort, absorbs whatever
an id has to spill.
When my mother was young,
a man installed an oblivion button somewhere between her throat and her heart. When I was young, she did the same for me. She haunts the margins of my life. Chopping onions, I argue with her ghost. I can’t ask her to take the button out; she just says, it’s not there. She talks in platitudes but her ghost is cowed in my kitchen. The knife comes with a sheath; I build a safety guard for the button. (But I can knock that guard up with my index finger, take a breath, press fuck it.) On the face of my ghost mother, I see the expression she made the first and last time she transcended words and slapped me right across the face: a response to my expression, a recognition that both of us had hands.
ANDREA BENNETT is a National Magazine award-winning writer whose first book of poetry, Canoodlers, came out with Nightwood Editions in 2014. She is a senior editor at Maisonneuve. Her poetry has been published by or is forthcoming with Best Canadian Poetry 2016, CV2, Canadian Literature, Geist, Grain, Lemon Hound, The Antigonish Review, and Poetry is Dead, among others.