Shuffling to the bus stop with the boyfriend
who’d cut his visit short, cracked plastic
wheels of his cheap suitcase juddering
on the ice, I clutched at his coat sleeve
and missed. Chin grazed, that deep-freeze smell
up my nose, gloveless hands stinging.
Close up: thousands of bubbles, suspended
in ice. Beneath the cloudy layers, a clot
of graying bubble gum clung to the sidewalk’s
dull surface. After our strained goodbye rain fell
and froze, coating everything in glinting layers –
crystallized tree branches, white picket fences
like glazed bones. Heavy with lacquer, power lines
crashed down, sparks crackling on crusted snow.
The city grew black, cut off from the grid.
Coming home at dusk on the third
powerless day, I saw my upstairs neighbour,
whose girlfriend often slunk past with eyes
blackened from his wallopings, illuminated
in the window of his loveless living-room.
He grinned, pointed at the lights, gave me
a boyish and triumphant thumbs-up.
Nadia Arbach has recently ventured into poetry from the more tactile world of textile and fabric arts, where she is an accomplished quilter. In her day job she works as a professional declutterer and organizer. She was short-listed in the poetry category of the 2017 Hysteria Writing Competition and will be published in the forthcoming Hysteria 6 nthology.
“This poem was inspired by an assignment in Eric Berlin’s Stand-Up Poetry Studio. We were to describe a fall – embarrassing rather than tragic – using as many sensory details, singular instances, and dynamic verbs as possible. I wrote about a fall I took in January 1998 when a massive ice storm moved across Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and parts of northern New York and New England, bringing down power lines. I was at university in Kingston, Ontario, and the power went out and the temperature plummeted, so we were all freezing for several days before we got back on the grid. Nearly 20 years later, I still remember the details vividly.”