Two Poems

Kathleen Jamie

Suitcases

Piled in the corner of a second-hand store
in Toronto: of course
it’s an immigrant country. Sometimes

all you can take is what you can carry
when you run: a photo, some clothes,
and the useless dead-weight

of your mother-tongue.
One was repaired
with electrician’s tape – a trade

was all a man needed. A girl,
well, a girl could get married. Indeed
each case opened like an invitation: the shell

-pink lining, the knicker-
like pockets you hook back
with a finger to look

for the little linked keys. I remember
how each held a wraith
of stale air, and how the assistant

seemed taken aback by my accent;
by then, though, I was headed for home.
I was bored, and already pregnant.

Pioneers

It’s not long ago. There were,
after all, cameras
to show us these wagons and blurred dogs,
this pox of burnt stump-holes
in a clearing. Pioneers;
their remains now strewn
across the small town
museums of Ontario:
the axe and plough, the grindstone,
the wife leaning by the cabin door
dead, and another sent for.