It’s the winter moon of misery
That gives pause; the vagueness
Of good intentions, the underlying
Capacity to exterminate.
My father insisted there were
A lot of good people. And I have wanted to believe
That our stardust binds heart and soul.
Having survived the firebombing of Hamburg,
Watching the dawn rise upon the pulverized city,
Creates an optimism I should accept. The risk
Of leaving everything—language,
Culture, family, friends, history—
Rests on a decision so profound
That pessimism has no place.
Yet he worried.
All the time. He worried about loss, especially
The loss of others. And it settled in
The sanctuary of his heart. Often I think
That is what he gave me
That means the most. For with that, I too
May be able to weep myself into paradise.
Questions and Answers
How/where do you find inspiration today?
Inspiration is stimulated by daily life, art, and our incessant destruction of the earth.
Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. books, films, art, websites, etc.)?
I recommend the reading of books of quality, the study of serious music and its architecture, and the study of films, especially those not in the native language of the writer.
What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?
Legacy is about my father. It was begun six years after his death.
How did your writing process unfold around this poem? How did you write, edit, and refine it?
I worked on it for over ten years. It was begun in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, and over the years revised in Alma and Grand Manan (both in New Brunswick), Edmonton, and concluded in Vancouver. The two references to Hoagy Carmichael are intentional.