it’s only beautiful if it ends

Today I looked up just as a bird

Alighted on the wire outside my window.

It wore a stately crown

And tilted its head quizzically  

But otherwise was still.

 As I was still

As the coffee which grew cold in my cup was still

As I stood and thought of you.


Of you and that day we drove

On highway 401.

The earth was flat, and we

Went in search of the edges

Where we could dangle our toes.

We drove following the veiny map

Past city static and

Straight through a hole in the sky.


A sky dressed in whispers -

Our own cracking voices sounding strangely heavy, though

We spoke only of airy things

Like the lady’s nasally voice on the radio

And how you liked to drive with the windows open 

And what snacks we would get at the next stop 


And the bird you saw yesterday

That wore a stately crown.


Speaking in the

                        Spaces             between          words

Like wind                    

                                    Between         leaves.


Trying to memorize the warmth of your hand on my thigh

The teardrop shaped birthmark by your left eye

The nose which halfway - changed its mind.

The way you clap your hands – just once – when you laugh

Rich, milk chocolate laughter.

Your terrible posture that straightens

When you speak with someone tall - or arrogant -

Before you forget and

Fall back into yourself.


Hand on thigh

            Teardrop birthmark – left eye

                        Nose that changed its mind

                                    Clap – just once         

                                                Straighten spine.


We drove to the end of the yellow line

Until the colour was sucked out of the earth

And Into the sunset

And the lady on the radio became a man

And he wished us goodnight

And your hand was not on my thigh 

And you were there 

And I was here


Holding a cup of cold coffee.


Hand on thigh

            Teardrop birthmark – right eye?

                        Nose that changed its mind

                                    Breathe – just once


Straighten spine.


Katrina Martinbranch1