Monday, July 11, 2011

“poem” broadside #305: January 9: Before Kroetsch’s visit to my meteorology class, by Nicole Markotić

thank you for boosting precipitation in Alberta. I confess I have always endeavoured to write the weather into line-breaks, wind speeds as enjambment, cirrus as infernal semi-colon, today’s high as the exact moment I read The Snowbird Poems aloud and hear you perusing Jack Spicer. The space between breaks a mutual breathing.

You begin me beginning. The Chinook stretches and reaches and pulls my exhalation across the prairies. Louis and I passed beneath Manitoba last week, when we took a cross-country detour to visit Lorine Niedecker’s birthplace and home town. We started in Windsor, drove to Chicago, then through Wisconsin, up towards Saskatchewan, into Moose Jaw, and on to Alberta. At the wheel, I quoted from Alberta, citing driving records and crocus alerts and overly coddled spring gardens. I craved myself back into the prairies, your prairies, back into provinces where Schmier and the rules that don’t make logical sense, make sense.

You remind me, when you repeat “diadem” back to me, that ancient Greek does not accommodate the word blue. How to crown the poem without a pure lambent sky? Lorine Faith Niedecker lived in a small hut by the Rock River, her mother’s breath supplying the room’s temperature, and wrote, “don’t be afraid / to pour wine over cabbage.” She is buried in the same grave as her parents, her husband’s headstone a footnote beside them. On the family stone, “Neidecker” posthumously insists on e-before-I: direction is important in weathered stones.

What is it about the grave, you ask, that institutes plot? I can only answer with Picasso blues and wavering humidity, with the idea of horizon flames on a crown of winter, and with snowflakes sprinkling over your head in the dead heat of a Calgary January. You lose yourself in disproportionate narrative, on purpose. And we smectite readers follow, determined to unbury the plot, unspell surnames, unpave the TransCanada, and unwrite the inclement page.

In between morning rain and afternoon hail, you noticed what I forget: pronunciation matters. And the invention of the telephone did change how we write.

January 9: Before Kroetsch’s visit to my meteorology class
by Nicole Markotić
July 2011
above/ground press broadside #305

Nicole Markotić is author of two poetry books, Connect the Dots and Minotaurs & Other Alphabets, the novella Yellow Pages, and the novel Scrapbook of My Years as a Zealot. She has edited a collection of poetry by Dennis Cooley, By Word of Mouth, has worked as a freelance editor, and has edited special issues for the literary journals Open Letter and Tessera. She was poetry editor for Red Deer Press for six years and has recently joined the NeWest literary board as one of its fiction editors. She publishes a chapbook poetry series, Wrinkle Press, which includes work by Louis Cabri, Robert Kroetsch, and Nikki Reimer. She lives in Windsor, and is working on a book of poems.

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