What Was Once Russia


Finalist for the 2015 Walrus Poetry Prize

“The CCP or whatever,” my father says, anxiously. “I’ve been here for fifteen years.”

I remind him that Francis is almost fifteen—his limp little legs unable to get up the streetcar Steps today, my baby, I said, lifting him up—

So it can’t have been that long.

Summer is shuffling forward: in the park we are glanced by a yellow Frisbee and green ball and every day

My mother calls with a smaller voice, to tell me something that Dad said,

“Did I tell you he wrote a poem?” she says and “Do you want to hear it?”

She tells me:

Birds and bees and buffalo weeds.

And today: “Did I tell you your father said he is sitting in front of a big blackboard?”
that it is dark and everything is erased. He can’t remember anything.”

“Oh!” a young girl cried when I lifted my sick baby.

“Oh no,” I think, very quickly before the eraser speeds over,
she is telling the days of his dying—

The spongy rectangle leaves something like sky-writing’s passing,
a faint impression of something urgent in its blown out clouds.

Lynn Crosbie has written five books of poems and teaches at the University of Toronto. Her new collection of poetry, The Corpses of the Future, will be published this spring by House of Anansi.

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