Jennifer Still is a Winnipeg poet whose numerous awards include The Bliss Carman Poetry Prize and the John Hirsch Award and the Deep Bay Artist Residency. Her books include Girlwood (Brick, 2011) and Saltations (Thistledown, 2005)
How do we speak of the ill?
When our most valuable infrastructure
is built on an epidemic rusting.
I can’t see the pipes in my kitchen
walls where I want to cut a hole.
I want a hole through
what I can’t see.
The lake looks right through me.
(You lie there with a lie inside.)
I am not seeing what happens
behind the dam. Behind your
There is a light pouring
behind you. A round
hatch. All the water has been
drained so you can be here
imagining another way
out. The flash has caught
your eyes so empty
they tip themselves
back. I walk by thinking
mirror, thinking look.
The exit frames you, a halo
in those Christian paintings.
You stand up inside the main
artery and smile with two holes
in your head, toward the pressure.
Light streams where the flood is being
Look: there is an iv inside of it: live.
A blink in the birdhouse. Another.
Two eyes behind one hole behind
the spine of something
feathering. A bedsheet can be raised
like a sail. Cleanliness can be peace.
If the bolus was a birdhouse,
the feedline our steady rain.
The breath is made of sticks. Tent flutter.
The pencil holds center post.
There is that taut catch in clavicle,
hammock where I lie down and measure
your sips. A pen is said to make the incision
in a pinch. There, where you breathe, where
I pour a small lake
for the bird to drink.
There is a construction in the eye,
the mechanism of blind or blink. We think
that if we can not see it, it’s not there.
Send all our books through the pipeline.
Brace for the ink blotch, the vowel spill.
Forgive me, I’m just learning
how to speak of the ill.
Talking Water Project|Stories
Talking Water Project|Jennifer Still
Talking Water Project|Rhian Brynjolson