here's something I wrote a long time ago:
There is a woman who stands
behind me sometimes. She stands
behind me days when I wake
cranky and wise, eyes gummed and pregnant as I drag
myself to coffee, a pythia trailing
blankets for robes
She stands behind me.
She stands behind me with her hands
on my shoulders, so close I can feel
her breasts brush
my back just there, between the scapulae
on either side of my spine.
They are not a girl's breasts, firm and upturned,
the proud, first badges of impending womanhood.
Nor yet are they a mother's: ripe, round and full,
puckered about the nipple as navel oranges.
These breasts are empty sacks,
sagging and wrinkled
rinds only, the juice sucked out by greedy mouths
leaving her pulp
and a few tangy drops of memory.
From these breasts I know her.
She is there when my girlfriend comes over to drink
tea, smoke, and tell me her latest problems with her lover.
"Do you want my opinion?" I ask, knowing
she has no choice but to hear it
knowing the opinion is not entirely mine.
"Of course," she replies, so I give it to her.
Her lips tighten and she turns a shade paler.
"I think," she says, inhaling blue reassurance,
"I just need to learn to accept and let go."
She breathes down my neck and I
am suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to yank
my broom down from its shelf and commit an act of violence.
The phrase, "beat some sense into" reverberates through my inner ear
like the echo of chanting in a cave where bats' wings whisper
in the dark
"More tea?" I ask, and get up to put the kettle on.
She is not the smiling grandmother who welcomes
you into a steamy, sweet-smelling kitchen,
a setting hen clucking while she hangs
your wet, snow-encrusted coat over the radiator.
She does not offer you cocoa and cookies
And a large, ample lap in the rocking chair by the fire.
She is the witch who shuts you in the oven
until every excess is burned away.
She loves you like a surgeon's knife
cutting out a tumour.
She hates complacency.
She knows that change is never gentle
but will not accept that as an excuse.
She does what must be done
with a ruthless disregard for sentiment.
Insects die in the first frost; deer struggle and starve in the snow;
Still, winter comes.
She is the black-billed magpie ripping
flesh from the smashed prairie dog at the side of the road.
She can't abide waste.
She has a use for everything.
She knows no anger, only necessity.
She cuts the thread her sister spun
whether she likes you or not.