Mowing

By Marlene Cookshaw

Mowing
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An award-winning poet's day-book of poems, where both bounty and loss are tenderly assigned value.

 

Marlene Cookshaw, in her first collection of poetry in more than a decade, invites her readers to partake in a long-anticipated harvest that comes in many forms. Whether she's ... Read more


Overview

An award-winning poet's day-book of poems, where both bounty and loss are tenderly assigned value.

 

Marlene Cookshaw, in her first collection of poetry in more than a decade, invites her readers to partake in a long-anticipated harvest that comes in many forms. Whether she's haying June-high grasses, relishing a neighbour's gift of new potatoes with her husband, logging fragments of poetry she's read in a notebook, or honouring the deaths of her parents, Cookshaw works an open field. Through this pastorale wander dogs, horses, chickens, and donkeys in counterpoint to farm labourers and long-time residents who share in her abiding connection to the land they mutually watch over and tend. The power grid may fail while every monthly expense is brought to account, but observation as careful and particular as Cookshaw's more than weighs the seasons that it seeks to bring into balance.

 

Each day
I plan how the next will differ,

will more resemble what
I want a life to be.

 

"These poems can confront quotidian life in plainspoken language because, like an extraordinary pencil drawing, there is so much subtle cross-hatching and shading. Cookshaw observes her mother's death, for example, both directly and aslant, half turning away, as if unsure which is the more truthful. Mowing requires that you sit and visit for a good long while." --Ross Leckie

Marlene Cookshaw

Born and raised in Lethbridge, Alberta, Marlene Cookshaw studied writing at the University of Victoria and later worked for several years as the editor of The Malahat Review. Her poems have won several awards, among them the Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize and Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize. She has published six collections with Brick Books, including Shameless (2002) and Lunar Drift (2005), and in 2008 was presented with the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for outstanding achievement in mid-career. She lives on a small farm on Pender Island, one of B.C.'s southern Gulf Islands.

Excerpt

Relay

 

The days are handed off like bright batons.

 

A runner stutters into dark, the night
ahead. Ahead, dawn tucked beneath her arm,

 

someone else begins to hammer
the pulsing slope of mount grief,

 

while, in her wake, another navigates
the barberry thicket of what might

 

have been achieved. Who she was or will be
keeps her company the far side of the track,

 

winded, lurching forward, looking back.

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