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Cover of issue #219

Current Issue: #219 Contested Migrations (Winter 2013)

Canadian Literature’s Issue 219 (Winter 2013) is now available. The issue features articles by Vinh Nguyen, Miriam Pirbhai, Rachel Bower, and others, as well as new poetry & book reviews.

Tidying the Tower: the Lady of Shalott without Tennyson

by Anne Compton

I did not want to be awakened
called from cloth to casement

when he stepped into my mirror, a fire
plumed in my body

from frame to frame he filled its space
till space existed for his resplendent bearing

his unbearable light put out the world
emptied me of the pictured landscape

back then, I never could tell
what in the mirror was me, the room, or the world

two small boys, their red bonnets bobbing
among yellow leaves: saw all from above, my perspective

around a topography of hills and distance
my hair grew briary, seasons unfolded over my face

one winter a herd of deer stepped
delicately over the frozen river

their soft nubile horns nudged
velvety through my threads

the sight of him cracked my gaze:
sickened of sight, I wanted touch

stones crumbled under the weight
of my longing, the pattern unravelled

small boys bled on the flagstone floor,
deer crashed through ice

tidied the tower, twigs from my hair, swept up
bits of mirror, spread

tapestries on the floor to lie on
a glittering professional, he did not turn back

up there, I'd said, this blue for the water:
it must have been a trick of the light, effect of distance

in here it's more like grey and ever
so swift


This poem originally appeared in Canadian Literature #172 (Spring 2014), Auto / biography. (pg. 112 - 113)

MLA: Compton, Anne. CanLit Poets: "Tidying the Tower: the Lady of Shalott without Tennyson" by Anne Compton. canlit.ca. Canadian Literature, 30 Sept. 2008. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.

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