Tag Archives: Dail poem

Ode to Air France

AF

On the 12 hour flight
from Paris to Tokyo
Air France serves ice cream
in the middle of the night.

A champagne apéritif,
brie with dinner
and rosemary-flavored crackers
whenever you want them.

In the middle of boarding
an attendant with a stylish chignon
brought me water
after a cross-airport run
left me wilted.
Later
she found
an extra pillow
cheerfully red
to make my flight
more comfortable.

Air France is
the closest I get
to first class
while seated
in economy.
 

Hyacinth

hyacinth

The plant lasted a week.

GIN
{not the drink
but
The Global Issues Network}
wanted our school to be greener,
green
with plants.
They emailed the teachers
and offered a choice:
tulip
hyacinth
muscari.
I looked up the plants on the Internet
(as one does when free plants are offered)
and the hyacinth
seemed easiest
to keep alive.
That’s the sum of my criteria
where plants are concerned.

Hyacinth is also the name
of my partner’s fierce-wonderful 
grandmother.
She’s 94.

The plant arrived while I was out
of my office.
Planted in a white plastic pot
with a little sign
that said “Hyacinth”
along with instructions
for watering.

Our first two days
together
were fine.
Uneventful.
One might even say boring.

Then my colleague
who works in the adjoining office
noticed small bugs
orbiting the plant.
She hunted them down,
pressing their grey-black bodies
into small squares
in the wallpaper.

She said: “It’s an infestation!”

I said: “I’m Canadian
and until you’ve seen
blackflies in August,
you can’t talk about infestation.”

She said: “My day
has been filled
with tiny murders.”

The next day
was one of peace.
Either she’d killed all the bugs
or some,
the wise survivor-bugs,
had moved on
to safer plants
and classrooms.

Then
in a riotous act of purple-beauty
Hyacinth bloomed.

Her corner of the office
was heavy with tropical daydreams.
She whispered the names of warm places
that end with an i.
Bali
Hawaii
Fiji.

The following morning
a colleague couldn’t enter my office.
Allergies stopped him
red-eyed and sneezing
at the door.

Later that day
my friend with the adjoining office
succumbed.

We had to send Hyacinth away
to live with another teacher.

I want to say that we took time
to mark this transition,
that we sent her away
with sad hearts
and words of advice.
We didn’t. We sent an email.

I’m starting to think that schools
are tricky places for plants.

Maybe I should have asked for a tulip.
 

The Elevator

TheElevator

We rode the elevator
from the park
down to the metro station
which feels surreal anyway
like Alice in Wonderland
plunging down the rabbit hole.

On the second floor
we stopped for
four young teachers,
each of them leading
three toddlers
in red baseball caps.

I tucked Damien behind me.
We’re a little scary to Japanese children.
So round and pink.
So tall and brown.

As each teacher entered,
she moved her three children
to make room for the others.
I thought of those
primary coloured
snap lock beads
from when I was a kid.
The pieces snapped apart
to make the necklace
shorter
or longer.
You could bend it around.

The doors kissed closed
and we were six adults
and twelve children.
The car heaved
with cuteness
and although
we were descending
the air got thinner.
I started to laugh.

Some of the small heads
turned up
towards us.
Their eyes were large with
“What are they?”

The bell dinged.
As the doors slid open
I thought we might spill out
like marbles
onto the concrete floor,
rolling past groves of shiny black shoes
and dogs straining on their leashes.

The teachers unsnapped the necklace,
led the children off
in their tiny groups
and down into the metro
where I imagine them riding still
joyful
in Tokyo’s basement.
Small superheroes
in red baseball caps.
 

Mean

Meanheader

A thirteen year old girl
became friends
with her bullies.

A journalist asked her to describe how,
after these girls had been cruel
for so long,
she was able to forgive
and become friends with them.

“What do you mean?”

“What are the characteristics of these girls
that make you like them?”

“They’re not mean to me anymore.”