Jeanette Lynes

Jeanette Lynes directs the MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Her forthcoming poetry book, Bedlam Cowslip: The John Clare Poems (Wolsak and Wynn, Bookrider Books) is her seventh collection. Jeanette's novel, The Factory Voice, a tale of women workers in an aviation plant during World War Two, was podcast on national radio and long listed for two awards. Jeanette recently co-edited Where the Nights are Twice as Long: Love Letters of Canadian Poets with David Eso (Goose Lane Editions, 2015). 



Lodge. Lake. Muskoka, 1968

The walls sprouted antlers. Staged snarls. Trophy teeth.

Down at the lake he seemed a bit old for a swim coach

but what did I, all silly cedar-ness, know?

The lake cold but beat memorizing scripture.

And we had the essentials: water, food (an hour away).

Our counselors had each other, their cabin crushes

flared marshmallows before the bonfire even lit.

(From our lower bunks we heard those

marshmallows go kablooey.)

Down at the lake I pictured Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

in those old bathing suits striped to the knees.

When the moment surfaces who ever remembers

‘Don’t talk to strangers’ –

We always talk to strangers, were born for this.

No stranger leaves without an answer.

No, I couldn’t swim (why I stood dumb in water

only to my thighs, trembling). His hands

tamped my skull, hasped my knees.

In the silt murk below, the two pale coffins of his feet.

My tussle must have scored his fix, his thrill –

the feel of me clawing at the world until it heaved back green –

until the pines grew the right way up. He’d snatched

what he needed, it seemed, an image of me

mounted on the lodge wall. The coffin feet vanished.

The lodge decked with taxidermy, grace.

Roll called up yonder. Fish cutlets. Counselors glow-y, blissed.

Near the tragic bear, an otter, glass-eyed,

high on the log wall. How close I came to joining

their catastrophic club. What did some stranger ask them,

I wondered, to nail those brimstone stares?




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© Copyright, 2015, Jeanette Lynes.
All Rights Reserved.