Dominique Bechard is a poet from Northern Ontario (Canada).
Her poems are published or forthcoming in Ploughshares, The
Antigonish Review, and The Puritan, among others. She has an
MFA from New York University, and is a current PhD candidate
at the University of New Brunswick. Her first collection of
poems, One Dog Town, is forthcoming from Gaspereau Press.
Speedyhead's Neck of the Woods
I must apologize for the smell
of methadone that follows me
home on warm January nights,
the lake's frozen places
polished by water and what
the loon tremolos span of
days. Because I feel inexplicably
better when the
chestnut tree does not bare itself
of chestnuts, and because I miss you
Speedy (these six months unaccounted
for), I must turn
to a hankering almost delinquent,
of busted windshields and disreputable
ways of putting
the child to sleep. Welcome,
you said to me, way back
when, and I failed to ask Where?
The first time I held the tunnelled
pen to my nose, snorted,
you said that span means both
harness and the space between
thumb and finger. I failed
to ask What's the correlation between
control and distance? Some say
you're in the jailhouse off Highway-
11 North. Some say
you're still high on anodyne,
not a dollar in the world, or
else you've taken the high
road out of this shithole.
After the Whippoorwill
At some interval between when
the neighbour's music is felled
and the dog is marched indoors for bed
(although she has slept all day within
her mobile allotment of sun), and I am
settled inside the coveted withdrawn
only to find it, or myself, more vapid
than before—do I think after you,
but not about you (in your wake, or on
account of what passed when, alone
as I am now, your will to live went dark),
just as I seem to carry on
by taking after—
and despite the whippoorwill's allnight
inventory of bleak folklorique and our inheritance
of absentee mothers, there is
always an unspooling—of the lawn, of what
adorns it: the dog's rope
as she chances on some warmth.
Having overslept my alarm by twelve hours, I wake
to find that you have pledged a terrible absolute
with a derringer pistol. I understand how
it must have occurred to you, in the afterlife
of many cigarettes, in languid appraisal of the owl,
& I appreciate that the ensuing, incomplete silence
must have played a part, as well—as if
endurance conveys a notion of elsewhere, as if
your insipid leftovers might nourish us yet. I will retain
the night we rolled your notebook of fowl sketches
into joints & hitchhiked across terrain that was
someone's anticipation, another's spent origins.
My father reads the obituaries every morning, advises me
to suppose the worst, while I, overwhelmed with every drive:
of divining the morning's painstaking light, of trying
to articulate, find I cannot proceed with forthrightness.
I'm crazed with the things
I might tell you—if.
It's been snowing
for three days.
I work in a restaurant
where Roberta Flack plays
and I've been crestfallen;
though nothing can coerce me
to quit smoking
or wake earlier.
I've been reading about skirelated
deaths: one family,
after a trip to the Laurentides,
made it home when
a quarter-ton of snow
fell from their roof
and crushed them.
I'm taking a lot of risks,
always, but nothing like
fancying myself home-free.
The basilica at night
is just as sublime as foretold,
though I was drunk on
cheap whiskey when I climbed
to the votive chapel
you were the man,
poorly lit, and lighting
a prayer candle I couldn't
seconds later pick apart
from the other shiverers.
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