Poems by Catherine Owen

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by Catherine Owen

From Canary Spring 2013

Catherine lives on the edge of the Lower Fraser Estuary where it runs into Vancouver, BC, down from Hope. She regularly walks the trails by the water where one can encounter otters, bald eagles, herons and the occasional coyote.

Prolong me along the estuary
       where the cataclysmic wildflowers, all their
smitten in pointillist manifold burgeon
       & there are discarded rust hungers too beautiful
       to not be
un-wedged from granite and shouldered home, such
bolts & rivets of ruin
       have we here below the swallow tidbit draughts of
       slight salt water
& slim oil from the tug-lovely voyages, green peeling
barges, power boats
       and the occasional Sea-Doo though the fishing
       lines continue to fall
from the small dreams of wharves while toddlers bucket
& cry on shorelines
       passed by the endless joggers. O prolong me along the estuary there
is something in this thin stretch of eel grass & bulrushes where the tide skew-wiffs in
       against the slow-eroding boardwalk that is hope-solemn, proven re-tuning
of what has been somewhat death-struck-numb and now wants, if living is what it does,
       to be vole-slickery and gold-holy as those dandelions tall beside the Fraser
and of their origins, stone, perhaps, or song.

Flee Qualicum Beach, BC

by Catherine Owen

From Canary Winter 2012-13

As if everything seeks to escape us – the young deer arcing in front of the bus, just
                      making it, dashing past side-of-the-highway bracken, its eyes full of why,

the stupid engines, its heart hurtling fear, then the darting heron who must wait, wait,
                      til the dumb bathers in Lycra, lithe-less teeming over the beach near evening,

only one more Seadoo trip, one more basky lassitude, but the heron needs to hunt, whippets
                      into the waves, eyes flickering between the retreating leaps of fish, diminished to minnow

& the chance of being chased by dog, child, a camera’s gawp over those “strange looking creatures
                      aren’t they, dear,” even the boy, two or three, hunkered down in the bushes & eel grass

by the side of the boardwalk, naked, taking a sweet shit, looks sideways, eyes a dark flit, terrified
                      lest his wildness be ceased as it will be & indoors with him & wrenched away, stuffed, extinct.


by Catherine Owen

From Canary Summer 2013

Off every wharf, the thin filaments of fishing lines,
       hopeful arches

Into unharboured waters & in eel grass alongside the
       path, on the edge of gyprock

Where rusted re-bar sticks sharply from the mud, they
       crouch, men with conical hats,

Pouches of flies. The river is acidic. Tugs & speedboats
       rip lines in its narrow chute

Down Marine to the ship yard, the mill. Salmon &
       sturgeon have dimmed, gone out.

Nothing is ever pulled up, reeled towards them but a
       kind of silence; they must hush

With this waiting, go home with the world they made us,
       absent, on their hooks.

Nature Writing 101

by Catherine Owen

From Canary Fall 2012

Our minds can turn anything romantic.
Is the problem.
The sewage-y mud of the Fraser a quaint muslin &
   the spumes

                    pulsing out of chimneys at the Lafarge
                       cement plant look,
                    at night, like two of Isadora Duncan’s
                      scarves, pale, insouciant veils,
                    harmless. The trees are all gone but then
                      aren’t our hearts

more similar to wastelands.
We can make it kin, this pollution, children one is
   sad about yet still fond of, their
delinquency linked to our own, irreparable with
   familiarity, a lineage of stench &

                    forgiveness. Our minds can assimilate all horrors.
                    Is the problem.
                    The animals will disappear and those small, strange invertebrates,

the bees will vanish & in the well-oiled waters, fish
will surge their deaths over the sand bags.
But then we keep saying, “Let’s construct another narrative.”

                    The nightmares must simply be called reality.
                    And after this you see,
                    it is possible to carry on.

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