Robyn Sarah lives in Montreal. She has published six poetry books and two collections of short stories in Canada. Her poems, essays, and fiction have appeared in The Threepenny Review, New England Review, North American Review, Matrix, The Malahat Review and elsewhere.

Letter in Reply to Linda's from Yangshuo

                         Montreal, April 23

On the vestibule mat, your wet letter
invoking spring green in Yangshuo,
apple branches white with blossoms:

It may as well be in Chinese
arriving, as it does, in a spring blizzard -
wind whirling sleet-stinging snow
to plaster the coats of walkers,
festooning our own trees in a white
too cold for fragrance.

- Only a day later, we sweep wet drifts
off the balconies, watch metal steam dry
under a warm sun. And sit outside
in our shirtsleeves in a white world,
falling water chiming all around!

Keep the Lilacs Blooming

Keep the lilacs blooming
on the east side, and so on:
people in their nightclothes
sharing the misery,

people nudging people
to conundrums like these
on the east side, about as wide
as the front yard. . .

No eggs get broken
in front of that little bit of street.
Consider me a friend of the city.
The Buddha is smiling.

Another Interval

Woke to a dark kind of revelation
aglisten with breeze:
no go-ahead for now,
no direction - rain all night and now
old fragments of picnic
painted midnight blue with silver trim,
the pock-pock-pock of that game
beautiful young men play, down by the water

Don't make yourself sad.
What a waste of good
cinematography - a mosquito in the room,
then a thunderstorm, he said
Do you mind if I do? and I said
Not at all. So things
feel that tiny bit less vague,
walled in by a gray board fence
just after dusk, watching a succession
of things pulled out of a hat

Social evenings, connected by the idea
of pilgrimage (part dream, part myth),
telephone messages shaped
by my gesture - grasping each carpeted stair,
holding forth on a streetcorner
to nobody at all - yet nobody
blows the whistle, you could spend
a life worse ways

There was sunlight, hard and bright,
a dry sadness on the way home
cutting a small caper on the wagon
of unresolved anger. . .the dream
floating by like a giant fish,
a great distance from the enigmatic
transitory externals of a moment
among the greenery

Then, applause in bursts,
but as if under water. Evening
the colour of Chinese lacquer.

I refuse to shut the window.