"Strangled by Growth"

"Sea to Sky"

Andrew French

Andrew French is a writer from North Vancouver, BC, and is pursuing an MA in English at the University of British Columbia. His poetry has previously appeared in a wide range of journals across North America and the UK, and his debut chapbook, DO NOT DISCARD ASHES, is forthcoming from The Temz Review‘s 845 Press. He regularly publishes reviews of poetry collections and grills his favourite authors on Page Fright: A Literary Podcast.

“‘Strangled by Growth’ responds to Emily Carr’s painting of the same name.”

“‘Sea to Sky’ borrows four lines from Chris Bailey’s poem ‘This Guy’:
 This guy who lost a father but still joked. Lost a father
 and saw the dark for what it was, then came back.
 Strapped on shoes he wasn’t sure he’d grow into
 but fuck it. A fella needs something for his feet.”

     Emily,

     I spend this weekend in a Bed and Breakfast
     near your childhood home. Flip through a book about you
     that I got on sale at the museum gift shop
     next to packs of Egyptian hieroglyph stickers
     for children to litter minivan windows with.

     I read about your dogs, recall a sense of relief
     I once felt upon learning that you, like us,
     worked off-topic to fund art, encountering the ugly
     details of your world with every word.

     How brutally painful it must be
     to exchange lanugo-layered puppies
     for canvas money, watch a stranger pluck
     a toddling fluffball from your world.

     How much more painful yet to do it yourself.

     You were forced to drown the yard in thick curtains,
     I see them through the window when I walk by.
     Stopped for a moment, I hear yesterday’s yelps resurfacing
     in backyard bubbles, symphonies of jingling scratches,
     little paws panicking against wet metal.

     This guy who lost a father but still joked. Lost a father
     long before he was one. Do you remember
     the twenty-first night of September? His guy was mowing
     a line through the forest while the sun dropped.
     This guy hangs a float plane high on the tree
     each year. Lets it dangle near angels, stars,
     limbs of support. This guy who lost his guy,
     went back to the crash site three decades later.
     All day on the Sea to Sky, picked leftover shrapnel
     and saw the dark for what it was, then came back.

     Strapped on shoes he wasn’t sure he’d grow into,
     toes curling in their deep end at sixty. Mowed the yard
     as the sun dropped, white sneakers gone green
     from lawn nights. Thirty years, this guy
     doesn’t want new ones. Swears by them,
     the pair fits fine, a little stained
     but aren’t we all? A little stained
     but fuck it. A fella needs something for his feet.