Nouns (a poem after Robin Williams died)

for everyone

Two days after Robin Williams died, I don’t know how to use verbs any more, and adjectives fail me.

The day that Robin Williams hung himself in his home I watched Andy Goldsworthy for the first time and the next day I got bitten by three wasps after I stitched three leaves together with a Ponderosa Pine needle like Andy Goldsworthy and threw them into the chasm of Trout Creek, thinking about Robin Williams and every moment in my life that he touched from the distance of the screen and the projection booth.

One week before Robin Williams died, the Mount Polley mine tailing pond breached and sent chemical slurry into the waterways and now the skin is coming off the salmon and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans tells the Secwepemc band that they can’t fish in the offered Musqueam waters to support themselves, unless the Musqueam wish to divide their allotment with them, so they should take the fish from their own traditional waters because the water is drinkable. They won’t even have to skin the fish.

Two days after Robin Williams died, the civilian death toll in Gaza stands at 1443, and there are
 236 374 displaced people, including those in whose dinner table the occupiers carved ‘good Arab = dead Arab’ before they retreated behind their Iron Dome.

Ten days before Robin Williams died, I studied the ball of amber forming on the tree behind her head as a green grasshopper made his way directly over it without getting stuck, and I listened to the trio of crows on the sea wall as they discussed their next move.

The day after Robin Williams died, so did Lauren Bacall, and I remember her as ‘Sailor’ in her radio show with Bogart and I lie in bed thinking about them marching on the capitol protesting HUAC.

Two days after Robin Williams died, only nouns seem secure.

This poem “Nouns (a poem after Robin Williams died)” originally appeared in Emerging Scholars. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 226 (Autumn 2015): 34-35.

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.