from Female Troubles

Work project at a wilderness school for disturbed teenagers

She is sulking like screaming.

We pick a tree stump and choose
Tools: two spades, a mattock and an axe.
We go at digging, getting sharp pebbles
And dry clay at first. The working gives us time
For talking. Down into the earth,

First the roots we find are scrappy
And can be cut away with a sharp end.
Swinging the mattock with heavy arms,
Taking hours to feel the stump shift,
We chunk wet root and sweat release.
Just nicked, the taproot is a trunk
Underground, standing still.
Its white, sappy meat smells bitter,
Blinking under the axe.


I still have the stars in my purse
The brown paper wrap of tiny silver stars
The batty lady at the costume shop in halifax made
Taking down a glass jar full and shaking out
Enough for one weekend it still falls out
when I empty my purse for change instantly
I'm standing at the counter listening to the lady babble
She was a mystic with a lot of exes the high hum
Of the space heater over psychedelic seventies rock
Sparkly paints, spangly wigs and hats with glittered
Flowers I am fizzy and we are still in love

Beading with a broken heart

I worry openings the size of a pinprick
With a needle longer and more flexible than one
For stitching. I focus on stringing together
With an eye for the pattern before it emerges.
Clasps and hooks and rings are the bits that join up
And finish a piece, called findings.
I am handiworking ache and memories onto beads.
My eyes are stinging and I haven't stretched.
It's late at night. The seed-beads roll away from me,
Mean and small in the artificial light.