For Emile Nelligan
Kelly Norah Drukker

On Laval street where you lived leaves rise twisted in the wind's snare

and building facades shiver— night has a shaded face a cry pressed into frozen vines.

On the balcony did you sit, thought-heavy high up from the wave-rocked street

sure of the poems that were your life, a breakwater tides reaching far from here?

This city that you left has lightened from grey. Summer in the park

past six o'clock, the drummers dance on dirt dressed in sweat and rain—

Yet I know your face from the photograph. In your eyes we see

the bite and hammer of winter's true hand. I cannot go with you

forty years into silence but shall stand on the edge of a cracked

sidewalk for a moment in your city and say to you,

This is where the shades of light and colour are about to fall.

Kelly Norah Drukker is a Montreal-born poet who has lived and worked in Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, the UK, and France. She is the second prize winner of the 2006 CBC Literary Award for poetry, and is at work on her first collection of poems.