FOUR SEASONS (a poem cycle)

These poems were commissioned by the Canadian Sinfonietta, for a performance of Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and Astor Piazzolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, for violin and string orchestra, with violinist Lara St John. The concert took place on Saturday 5th March 2011, at the Glenn Gould Studio, in Toronto.

Hunger (Winter)

Sometimes the mercury rises

by meagre degrees

and faith sets forth straggling roots

toward small thaws,

spring's mirages.

phoebetsangpho Then I think

you are a swallow's shadow,

tickling my shoulder

with an insect half-caught

in her beak—

phoebetsangpI shake you off,

set my nose to snow,

refuse to turn round for a ghost

who grows thinner with each mile,

and a spider falls to the ground,

three-legged, back broken,


phoebetsanis it love

that makes us desire the path

most difficult?—

writhing without feeling.

Mother (Spring)

To the victims of the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand,  22/02/2011.

Demeter's arms have frozen

around the body

of her dead daughter.

And now it thaws.

Among the grey willows,

Persephone calls:

phoebetsangphoe Mother,

look, over here!—

phoebetsangphoe her voice

is a wind wringing

braided boughs.

Each night, Demeter dreams

the flesh of her flesh

is torn from the garden

by an arrogant god— 

phoebetsangphoebetsthe house

ransacked, gold plundered,

red velvet ripped to shreds

(as in a moderate earthquake).

Beneath the rubble,

the silent city. Amputated

limbs protruding

like tuberous buds.

The search dogs wander off,

having given up.

Demeter watches, wrapped

in her sorrow,

and a floral nightgown

that may or may not be hers,

she can’t recall.

She can't see the ghosts of swallows

clouding her reflection

in the river not yet unfrozen,

etched with its palimpsest

of spiderwebs—


(she knows there is no afterlife).