Shredding

Five sheets at a time I lower your history into the teeth.

Deeds and denials, medical trials. Claims, creations,

applications. The list of guns in the house,

suicidal ideations. A seven-thousand-dollar house deposit,

six to add a ramp thirty years later. Two nursing homes

and their monthly bills. Contributions, tribulations,

terminal confusions. Transforming documents

 

into bags the size of pillowcases.

Tell me this is the final ceremony,

the one I have waited ten years to perform,

your last diminished trip out the door. 

 

There is a rubric for what to keep aside:

if your slender slanted handwriting covers the paper.

If the paper is official green. If it’s over

sixty years old. Eulogies and photos.

The guide to shredding:

penny stocks, useless then and now,

tax receipts and two wills.

Wheelchair repairs, prayers. Mass

cards. Orations, irritations, surrenders

and very careful lists of very small investments.

 

Underneath this long-postponed work, I’m sure I hear

another set of blades — whir-whir-whir/stop, whir-whir-whir/stop —

it’s you making long green aisles in the back yard again, pushing

the clattery lawn mower up and down,

short-lived lines of latitude and longitude in your wake.

 

Published online September 01 2010.

CV2 was the first journal to publish one of my poems: “Kathmandhu Guest House” appeared in the fall issue of 1992. Goodness, that makes me realize, I’ve been writing and publishing poetry for almost twenty years now! And what a fine place to start a poetry publishing career, and to feel the first inklings of recognition. I enjoy and learn from the work in every issue, across all the types and varieties of poetry published here. I’ve very much appreciated the openness of CV2 to new writers — I’ve encouraged anyone I am mentoring to submit their work here — but also how it’s grown and changed and evolved over the past decades. The journal’s in-depth interviews with poets are a real gift:  they help to create awareness of how new and established poets are thinking about their work; they build the Canadian poetry community and solidify our bonds across this big nation of ours, where we so often find it difficult to make links with writers outside our own regions.
    But I think the most special relationship I’ve had with CV2 has been with Clarise Foster over the annual Lina Chartrand Award. This award, in memory of a friend who was a Toronto francophone playwright, screenwriter, novelist and poet, honours an emerging woman poet published in the journal over the previous year — and this is because Lina was another poet who was so touched to have her poems accepted by CV2 early in her career. So when Lina died in 1994, her friends were very pleased to contribute the funds to establish the award, and grateful that the board agreed that CV2 could administer the award.
    What a hard and heroic job it is to keep a poetry journal alive, especially in the current economic and political climate. Heartiest congratulations to the people who’ve worked on CV2 over the years — and here’s to another thirty-five years!

— Maureen Hynes


The Keystone of Canadian Poetry Turns 35 cover image

This piece was published in ‘The Keystone of Canadian Poetry Turns 35,’ the Fall 2010 issue of CV2.

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