Michael Lithgow

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Dogma of spring

The spiders are back. They can’t help themselves,
little legs ticking over my desk. Noticed a web

from my keyboard to a book, a brazen claim. And look,
winged bugs drifting at the window like bits of gauze

in a breeze. It’s all happening again, that queer sorcery
that opens seeds and draws sap to crowns of trees.

If I wasn’t a foundling of science I’d call it desire.
The pessimism of a season teased apart by the easy warmth

of April sunlight. There’s something moving in the sea-belly
of my Love, too; a conjuring of our own. This little snail

turns in wine dark, it hears everything: our breakfast
arguments and the radio news; our bewilderment  

and awe. We succumb to the claim this infant makes,
drawing us forward like the dumb passion of a root,

compelled by the centre of things, stone-blind faith.  



An irritation (country living no. 2)

When  morning  sunlight reaches the  gentle  slope  behind  my
house, white  moths  begin to twitch over the brown  mulch  like
small disheveled blossoms loosed from their stems.  November
reams  the  forest  of most  living  things, so this sudden, gentle
commotion  is  a  surprise.  In  the  sky  above  the  forest  is an
untouchable  skin  of  grey.   What  happens  this  time of year -
the emptiness - can get on your nerves.

Years  ago,  I sat  wide-eyed  facing  a  sheet  of plate glass 16
floors  above  Pender  &  Granville  watching  traffic  twitch and
flick  through  the  streets. The wind’s high-pitched moan along
the  façade  at that height moved inside of me as I sipped from
a  tin  of  beer  imagining  –  rightly  –  that  I  would never have
such  a  view  again. Do you know the sound of a skyscraper at
night  when  the  offices  are  empty?   The  rewards  were  real
enough,  but  I also  sensed that  I was inside the dull hush of a
catastrophic machine.

The  loneliness;  that  sense  of  being  inside  something  vast;
watching  parts  of  it unfurl  through a window near the start of
a long  fall;  an emptiness  that reaches inside and tries to take
something. I feel it in these hills.


Michael Lithgow’s essays and poetry have appeared in academic and literary journals including the Literary Review of Canada, ARC, Contemporary Verse 2, American Communication Journal, TNQ and Fiddlehead. His first collection of poetry, Waking in the Tree House, was published by Cormorant Books in 2012, and shortlisted for the Quebec Writers Federation First Book Award. Work from this collection was included in the 2012 Best Canadian Poetry in English (Tightrope Books). He currently lives in Edmonton, AB and teaches at Athabasca University.