the smell of sawdust. A poem by Josephine LoRe

September Selfie

the smell of sawdust 

the smell of sawdust on his clothes 
and in his hair and in his pores
   the roughness of his hands 
   the breadth of his suntanned back

the darkness of his eyes under lashes thick
she pale and fair—hazel eyes, auburn hair
   he profound, his proclamations meant to be absolute
   she shrill and reigning over us nonetheless

the bathroom he built in the basement of our three-storey house
where so many rooms were just for company, just for show
   he, my father, a deep pool 
   she a rushing torrent, a thunderstorm

and she hurled words that hurt the air around our ears
so many things unsaid –
   stories we never learned until we were grown
   her mother dying young, leaving five children behind

her father dead or gone away, rumours hushed
her brother taking her in to work in his house
   she, boiling water carried in from village fountain 
   to wash the diapers of his infant child

the letters that my father sent, taken away
hidden by her brother’s wife
   behind the mirror of the dresser
   how she became betrothed to another 

believing my father had forgotten her
how my father’s father and my father’s brother 
   went to the house to ask why she wasn’t writing back
   those were different times

when I asked why their love was never officially declared
before my father left to mine the coalheart of Belgium
   I was told they were too young
   he had no diamond for her finger, no gold

and their promise was to keep them 
until he would come to claim her as his bride
   all of this I never knew for I was but a child
   but some evenings he would sit upon a backless stool 

in the basement of our house
smelling of planed pine, hands rough with work
   fatigue heavy on his shoulders
   and she would kneel before him

lift his feet one by one 
from the basin in which they soaked
   wash them, towel them dry
   and he would look upon her softly

and I could feel but still not comprehend
   the ties that went beyond their words

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a pearl in this diamond world …  Josephine LoRe’s words have been read on stage and in zoom-rooms globally, published in literary journals and anthologies in ten countries and three languages, put to music, danced, and integrated into visual art.   

She has two collections which integrate her poetry and photography, Unity and the Calgary Herald Bestseller The Cowichan Series. She is a member of the Canadian League of Poets, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, and numerous online poetry societies. She has taught poetry workshops through the Alexandra Writers’ Center Society, When Words Collide and the Wine Country Writers’ Festival. Poetry has been her covid antidote. 

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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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