May 7, 2020

CONYER CLAYTON: WE SHED OUR SKIN LIKE DYNAMITE


Conyer Clayton photo by Grant Savage
Conyer Clayton writes: This is one of my favourite poems to read aloud in my entire book, and I was looking forward to sharing it orally with folks during readings. I encourage you to read it out loud. I feel that is where it shines the most.

This poem is a reflection on the thinness of the line between worlds, the ways we attempt to thicken that veil, dissolve it, reach through, and retreat.

I had several readings cancelled, including Versefest on March 26th, two Guernica launches in Toronto and Ottawa, and likely more to be cancelled this summer. My Ottawa launch with Riverbed Reading Series has moved to Zoom, on May 20th. Check out their website, riverbedreads.ca for details on how to register!

The Screen Comes Off Easily

You text me to say
you crawled out the window
to the balcony
of your hotel room
on the 26th floor,
the wind around the sides
of buildings tearing
your hair out, tearing you off
like the beetle you released
to starlight and concrete.

How efficiently we grieve

depends not on the body itself,
the colour coding,
the spice drawers.
Put it back
where you found it.
Put it back quickly
before I notice the gap,
the continuing nights spent alone,
the ones I asked for,

the steps heavy and shuffling regardless.

            *

She left the long list of her leaving out plain:
            her body
            cigarette burned
            blanket
            long list
            groups of letters
            tattered sweaters
            turquoise nightgown
            moles sun-spotted (palm backs and cheeks)

The tapestry behind her weighted down with
the smallest flower repeated,
the smallest flower, small and blooming widely.

            *

We sit with our food
groups grouped
in thick bricks of colour
on our plates.
No need
to supplement this existence
with the slow release
of how much we know
once our toes are off the edge.

How little we know.

And the lightness with which
you come back inside.

Conyer Clayton is an Ottawa-based writer, musician and gymnastics coach. She has 6 chapbooks, 2 albums, and won The Capilano Review's 2019 Robin Blaser Poetry Prize. Her debut full-length collection is We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (2020,Guernica Editions). Stay updated on her endeavours at conyerclayton.com.





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