Carolyn Smart: A Poem

Carolyn Smart

My 11 year old self is walking on the playing field
towards the rhododendron woods, the edge
of my boarding-school grounds.

To my right is the single swing where the Lady Caroline
explained to me how her mother was a Countess, dark hair
parting open then closed on her freckled, anxious face.

Why do you not go back to America,
the girls ask, that place where the President was shot,
is that not where people who talk like you should be?

But that is not where I live, nor do I live in Canada now, for
my parents have sailed away, taking their arguments with them.
They do not write to tell me of our future. They do not write at all.

Inside the rhodo woods the older girls build shelters.
We sweep our tree house spotless every day,
brooms of leaves, bent boughs as seats.

It is only children here and we are kinder
in a way to one another, in the woods.
We are a sort of family, and briefly unafraid.

It is important who we let inside our shelter.
This small one standing eager at the entrance:
she might change everything.

From time to time I glance behind to
the far side of the trees and the high grey wooden fence.
Beyond that is the road, the world, the sea.

(Ian Barber, courtesy Red Edge Images)

Carolyn Smart is the founder of the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, and since 1989 has been Professor of Creative Writing at Queen's University. Hooked - Seven Poems has become a performance piece, featured at the Edinburgh Festival in August 2013 and upcoming at Theatre Passe Muraille in the spring of 2015. Her forthcoming poetry collection Careen (Brick Books, fall 2015) tells the story of the Barrow Gang. Read my conversation with Carolyn Smart here.