Somewhere in the distance all will be silent, but for now, I bend over cold-winter water in the pond, down in the weeds, clearing unwanted growth and a frog who wasn’t here last year arrives, and I discover grubs asleep below.
So absorbed am I with the earth gripped in my fingers, my bent back over soil, barrows of mulch to define the grass from the garden’s edge into the task, I do not feel the rain upon my back, turbulence above me, then the hail drumming on the water, and I continue looking for closure with each garden bed I groom, my mind wandering through the past at how things change and stay the same, my labour taming things, molding gardens, bread, and young people in my care, how much help I gave and got along the way. In the distance, all will be silent, the weeds will be gone, and the small frog will be another, the rain and hail the same and I will be done with taming things.
David Fraser April 3, 2023
You Cannot Hold on to Broken Things
I pass the field waiting for the lambs and wonder what will happen to them this year? There are two now huddled close to their mother beside the fence.
My father gone. My mother after him. In the cold days of growing up I had a stuffed monkey that I loved beside the closet where the rats were kept.
Monkey lost his hair and mother fed up with sewing up the limbs, threw him out I rescued him from the garbage many times but forever lost him when my family packed and left.
I should have known the fate of broken things.
David Fraser April 3, 2023
What Has Happened to the Kissing?
What has happened to the kissing, afternoons when young lips drank from each other’s well. Surprises ambushed by desire, swollen lips drinking from an endless stream.
What has happened to the kissing, a step away from a touch, a brush of lips across the neck, a turn toward you, to meet again like dust creating stars.
David Fraser Feb. 2023
Love Poem for Three Generations
The day is over now, so come away, as when your nearness could comfort me. Remember in the garden working in the soil, sun blazing on our faces, how we felt this place we created from bare earth how we fertilized the future and raised closely and from a distance those little girls we knew before they grew, strong enough, to follow dreams.
David Fraser Jan 2023
Featured Published Poems
When Bone Ships Sailed the Stars
When they approached the cliff there was no turning back. It’s then they carved a ship from the hollow bone of a great sea serpent’s skull, fashioned sails from its skin before the creature rotted, bleached by sun and water by the sea. With each passing day, with tools once forged in zero gravity, they worked, etching runes and circuitry, the rotting smell enough to make the starving hurl their stomachs on the rocks. At night in a cave, on an oak table they unfolded all the stars in the milky way and spread them like a map lit by harnessed sun and candle light.
In them was a spirit not destroyed and they would gather by the hot tide pools tempered by the sea, and search late summer skies for answers, make up stories for the questions that still remained. Their solar barque was fitted with the tiny bones of all the animals they loved, fingers from children who’d died too young, and the long thin shanks of the wasted ones who once had brought them home in woven baskets and swaddling clothes. They drew messages on the polished surface of the hull-- arc of the moon, a rising sun, studded holes punched into a black night sky. They knew of ghost ships that could appear out of a foggy night, or from around a cluster of debris afloat and held in space. They knew the danger waiting there. They knew not to listen to the Sirens call that came from deep in time.
There were some who stayed, grounded, and wrote of ancient floods and arks preserved on mountain tops, but the carvers knew from beyond those histories, that those stories were caught up too much with words. And when they left—a great rising up of oars and sail to catch the solar winds—with regret they watched those who could not escape, watched them fashion stone shapes of great ship hulls in meadows as a message to draw them back, watched them paint on rock walls with fingers dipped in blood and berry juice in flame and shadows, and watched them with mathematics lay out huge stones as signs on the desert sand. Regret they knew for their great bone ship was destined only for the stars.
David Fraser Previously published in Tesseracts 18, 2015
Margaret, December 1971
On the snow I hold my arms out wide like the angel above my brother’s crib. Mr. Harris will be mad at me when he knows I’m missing from his class. He’ll call my mom and she’ll be mad at me, and we’re moving on the weekend; Uncle Bobby’s helping us. When Mr. Harris finds me in the snow, I’ll tell him how last night I held my baby brother, how blue he was, how quiet, like my doll with her missing arm, how I didn’t tell my mom ‘cause she was busy with Uncle Bobby, banging the bed against the wall. I won’t tell him how I carried my baby brother with me to the school, how I made angels for him in the snow, how I made a crib and tucked him in behind the bushes by the steps and made more angels to keep him safe. They thought he was a doll. I won’t tell Mr. Harris how each night I want, not to cry, just stay warm, like my baby brother now, wrapped up in his bed beneath the snow.
David Fraser Previously published in After All the Scissor Work Is Done, A collection published by Leaf Press Spring 2016
The Bogeyman an We Never Knew
When they found him, he’d been dead for many weeks, feet propped up in a La-Z-Boy,™ head back, mouth a grin, bare-chested with curled grey hair on pale white flesh, just in his underwear, yellowed jockeys, elastic graphed into his skin, scattered centre-folds of porn, upon his lap, crusted, dried ejaculate caught in the creases where the naked breasts of strange women came to visit him.
We always wondered what he did inside that house. In the early morning he would sit on his veranda steps, or late at night, there in the shadows watching everyone pass by.
He slept on a walnut dining table with a pillow and a sheet, heat lamp suspended from the ceiling where a chandelier had hung. We often wondered how old he was behind that beard, those squinting eyes, that silent mouth that coughed up phlegm and horked it into the Spiraea on each side of his veranda steps.
We often wondered about his loneliness and never once imagined how, in the creases of his mind he’d preyed on some with backpacks, books and skipping ropes, short summer dresses in May and June, and even on the rainy days of fall, and the bundled-up late afternoons when winter stalked the streets.
We just never knew, and that’s what, when we found him, scared us most.