PilgrimIbarn swallow barrel rollsand phonemic slippageschase cloud-shadow yokelismsback to the bushIIuntil I was 15I believed a crick was differentfrom a creekstretched thinnerscraping itself under roadsthrough aluminum tunnelspopulated with turtlesa crick snappedIIIolfactory archeologyof sawdust, oil and earthreveals a sitting-room with wood panellingand that John Wayne clockhis legs tick-tockingWhaddayasay PilgrimIVthe ghost I never met, but imaginedwading among the bones of drowned horsesdown by the crickis missing half his facehe reaches out to methrough his brother's ruined life& my mother's anxious vigilancehe once followed me to Montrealand came back to lifehe still grips me by the diaphragmand mocks my unshakeable beliefthat I can be ready for anything
Vsince 10th gradeDel Jordan has been whispering in my earforget the lurking idyllit all comes out gothicno unicorns but horse bonesswallowed by the quick sandat the edge of the fieldVImy grandfather's accounts of thisare unconfirmed but by the factthat I sank thigh-deep in sewagein the recently harvested fieldon Thanksgiving Day when I was 7my older brotherlike so many times sincepulled that screaming childfrom the stinking earththat threatened to swallow herwholenessseepage:this is a photograph of meVIIdon't tell my motherit all comes out gothicdespite the lurking idyll
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
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Jennifer Baker was raised in Exeter, Ontario, where she divided her time between town and her grandparents’ farm. She is currently a part-time professor and PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa.
[Jennifer Baker launches Abject Lessons as part of the pre-ottawa small press book fair reading on November 7, 2014 at The Carleton Tavern, alongside Dave Currie, Frances Boyle, Anita Dolman and Stuart Ross]
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