Autumn Song in 4 Voices

1   On one of the last warm days /	on the rez, we want 

1	music. So, Frank puts on /	a Nils Frahm record	
2                                                                                 as the autumn

1	       The Whole Universe	Wants	to be	Touched –
2   flies cling /	to the last rays	of green, gold, orange sun.

1	                                              Human Range –	ForeverChangeless –
2    Inside every window, they buzz /	an insistent	yearning

2	to live / an extra day	or two.		
3                                  But tomorrow will not		answer. / Unhurried,

1			                                                                 	Momentum –
2		                                                                            They keep	coming. Buzz.
3          I bring the flyswatter down. /	Again.		Again.	It’s not

1	                                                           Fundamental	Values –
2	                                                                       Buzz.	           Buzz.	       Buzz.
3	personal. /	We just want	to hear /	the pianette

1	                        Harm Hymn –
3	and marimbas. /I play along	with Nils, /	a light
                                                                                              Our dog

2		                                                                    Decrescendo.
3	percussive	tap, tap, tap /	on the glass.
4	           starts barking / staccatos	/	at a passing	car.

1		                                                     It
2		                                                              is
3		                                                                     all
4	A turkey vulture circles in the sky.	            melody.


Road Trip

We watch our lives disappear 
in the rear window. The city, its veneer of smoke

and mirrors, its reflection a promise 
that money is always closer than it appears.

My hands slick on the wheel, nerves 
like dandelions about to fly, bearing the dream

of making a new home somewhere 
else. Our dog whines, vomits on the seat

then falls asleep. We drive past motels and gas stations, until 
we are nineteen again and all we see

is sky. You teach me 
how to recognize trees

birch: white	pine: cones	     cedar: giizhik	I bury 
my nose in the sweetness

of peeling trunks and needled branches, remember 
the softness of leaves and bark. The earth, opening

to me like a sunrise 
for the first time.

Combo 5

Today I choose / the memory 
of you / picking me up from kindergarten / 
our Friday treat / I have grasped 
at clouds / for others / you 
knitting / gardening / picking out fish 
bones with perfect technique / If I am 
not careful / these will be / the only ones 
I keep

I remember / on the 49 bus / you 
saying Hallo / to the driver 
and everyone else / Hallo / Hallo / 
Hallo / I watched in wonder as you / received 
what you gave / faces turning 
to you / like sunflowers / to the sun 
no such thing / as small revolutions

I remember / our final test / lining up 
at the Fraser McDonald’s, long gone / 
How can I help you two 
today? / You, pushing a slip 
of paper forward, / a quick glance / 
a nod / and it was done / 
Combo 5, / Fish Filet meal / comin’ right up

I remember / our onlookers’ 
amazement. / a miracle, us 
getting what we came for / with nothing 
more than a Hallo / and a number on scrap 
paper / a miracle 
of fish and bread

But above all / I remember
your dismay / when, after devouring 
my burger / my face messy 
with sauce, I would not / share 
my fries. 

I Once Thought

I could be happy 
in pieces, living a hundred lives, 
each a stranger to the others. 
If I made my selves 
small enough, maybe I could fit 
each shameful crumb into a box— 
one for family 
one for church 
one for friends 
one for me 
just me. 
Neat and tidy. 
How easy it is 
to tuck your self away, 
to become a lonely house 
of private rooms 
whose corners the sun 
could never reach.

About the Author:

Grace is a settler living in Ontario on the traditional and Treaty territory of the Anishinabek people, now known as the Chippewa Tri-Council comprised of the Beausoleil, Rama, and Georgina Island First Nations. Her debut collection of poetry, The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak, is published by Guernica Editions and a Lambda Award finalist. Her work can be found in Grain Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, Arc Poetry, and elsewhere.

*Featured image by Goran Tomic