odyssey

1. beds

have you noticed
that in the beginning
beds are too big
oceans fields skies
of space
over there

the two of you
prefer to nestle
share each other’s breath
throughout the long night’s dance

later the bed shrinks
contracts from cold
you cling to the edge
lie still as a corpse

your breath
is the first to go

each morning
you look
in the mirror
surprised to see
you are still there



2. you dream

you are a faded balloon
rising slowly into
a starless sky

you burst
spew out
all the breaths
you never took
all the words
you never said

for a moment
you know
real flight

you soar
then wake
hands clenched
beside you

his waking breath


3. shoes

a woman needs shoes
when she leaves
the road is not soft or warm
when she stands outside
on the edge of tomorrow

this place is not the tropics
its cold killing wind chill
sucks her awakening breath
catches as the broken-ribbed ache
blows in

her feet are blue, bloodied
numb, but she’s used to
feeling nothing
puts one foot
in front of the other

as she heads out into the place
on the map
called “unexplored territory”


4. sheltered

when you crawl in
they recognize you
they know your name
is sorrow
when they say “pain”
you look up
trained for more

but they know
one day you will see colours
more than grey and black
one day you will stay
though you’ve crossed this threshold
seven times

with your children
you will sing new songs
the dull flicker of your light
will grow to shimmer as you dance
alone, or with another

they watch over you
trust the timing
wait for the day
when you can hear Spirit
whispering

breathe
breathe

~ Catherine McLaughlin

Catherine McLaughlin researched and wrote the Odyssey suite of poems for the 2007 performance of Heart’s Journey, a fund raiser for Odyssey House Women’s Shelter in Grande Prairie, Alberta. “waiting at the hospital” was a winner in the Friends of the University Hospital – Edmonton, Alberta (2010) poetry contest. Most recently she has published in Arborealis, A Canadian Anthology of Poetry (2010 & 2008) by the Ontario Poetry Society; Home and Away: Alberta’s Finest Poets Muse on the Meaning of Home, edited by Dymphny Dronyk and Angela Kublik (2009); Legacy, Alberta’s Heritage, Arts & Culture Magazine (Spring 2008); www.dailyhaiku.org, Cycle 4, (2007-2008); the Daily Haiku print journal (2008) and Writing the Land, Alberta Through Its Poets, Dymphny Dronyk and Angela Kublik editors (2007).

Read more of Catherine McLaughlin’s poetry:
Peace Country January
driving with Beth in the west county
fishing
worship
the offering
anything can happen in June
I Carry the Bay (1)

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