from Notes on Grieving

how hard my loyal sentinel has been working
to shield that tender place

the Heart who palpitates
so . . . so . . . so . . . so

stuttering agitated scarred
by the slightest signs
of betrayal

the needle enters Pericardium 8 on my left palm

the earth of knowing
explodes in a rush of pain and tears

she keeps me company while I weep
I’m sorry to cause you pain, she says

she would have removed that needle
had I found it intolerable
but I ask for the second needle
in my right palm

these weapons of liberation
shock the palace guard
with a relief from duty

now I can be exhausted
enter a sleep of countless lifetimes
pinned down at the palms

Questions and Answers

How/where do you find inspiration today?

Inspiration comes from reading or simply moments in my day: whether I’m travelling through streets of Vancouver or elsewhere in the world. Sometimes inspiration comes from music.

As a published writer, what are your tips or words of motivation for the aspiring poet?

Allow yourself to dream, and to practice trusting your voice. This is easy to say but hard to do. However, it’s all about practice: doing it frequently enough, until you learn to suspend the ego critic, so that you could have the space for your own language and creative voice to come through.

What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

This is an excerpt from a long poem I am still working on, called Notes on Grieving. It took me about 4 months after my mother’s passing before I could begin to start writing poetry related to my loss, and to testify to my process of grieving/mourning.

What did you find particularly challenging in writing this poem?

The emotional complexities and the psychological themes: how to translate these onto the page to reflect some of the nuances of grieving

This poem “from Notes on Grieving” originally appeared in Lost and Found Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 236 (2018): 33.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.