Author Pic - Price

Steven Price’s first collection of poetry, Anatomy of Keys (Brick, 2006), won the Gerald Lampert Award, was named a Globe & Mail Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Award. His first novel, Into that Darkness (Thomas Allen, 2011), was shortlisted for the Ethel Wilson BC Fiction Prize. In 2012 he published his second collection of poetry, Omens in the Year of the Ox, also with Brick Books. He lives in Victoria, BC.

Arbutus

If grief were given shape, if grief
were given shape would it grow like this

in a horror of limbs, and headless—

Abruptly up to gripped rock it
gives, groan on ingrained

groan, it

writhes, waterworn and weathering
the weather of its own wood

while the shelf of the world shivers.

No bark
is born so old. No bark is born

with blunt teeth bared and tearing red strips of itself

in such thin streeping curls of skin, no bark
but this, crackling under the smooth gnarl

of its own flensing. Windlorn, windflinted,

still like slow molasses wound on a stick
it pours the thick thrust of itself

hugely upward, anguished, arboreal,

it seeks its brutal purchase, it sinks its rootmuscles in
and will not be moved, it will be

unmoved

as if grief as if grief as if
grief, engorged, grappled its roots below. No it has no

choice. It outstrips itself as it grows.

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