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Marjorie Bruhmuller

Marjorie Bruhmuller was a finalist in Glimmer Train’s New Writer’s Short Story Contest (2002). Her poems have appeared in Grain, Event, Room, The Antigonish Review, The Poetry Project (Tupelo Press), THEMA, California Quarterly, Willow Review, Taproot, The Mitre, The Light in Ordinary Things, The New Writer (UK), Sleet, The Frogmore Papers (UK), Other Voices, Nashwaak Review, Poetry Quebec, the Ottawa Arts Review, Under the Radar (UK), The Criterion, Broad River Review, Carte Blanche, The Centrifugal Eye and Water-Stone. She won third prize in FreeFall’s Poetry Contest 2009, won a fellowship from SLS United Literary Contest and was a finalist in the First Annual AWA Pat Schneider Poetry Contest. Her Haiku has been published in A Hundred Gourds, Haiku Canada Review and will appear in The 2017 Haiku Canada Members Anthology. After 13 years of running her own natural soap company “Belle Epoque” she moved from Ayer’s Cliff to a farm near Lennoxville, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. She has been a member of various writing groups for almost 20 years. Reading and writing haiku is her latest passion.

Nearly a Postcard

I might have been only a postcard—
if my parents hadn’t met, living
an ocean apart, and yet, fallen in love.

Might have been the one that said,
“Nice to have met you—Hope all is well, John.”
or “Weather is ghastly; rain, rain, rain! Your friend, Jean.”

or been a photo tucked into the letter with the ring,
perched six war years on her dressing table,
my father’s broad shoulders and bright smile

keeping the flame alive—the dream of a little house
in Canada, with a white picket fence. And as a response
I would have travelled on an ocean-liner,

(or a small boat pretending to be an ocean-liner)
might have been intercepted by a U-boat
off the coast of Newfoundland and drowned—

fluttering like a leaf to the ocean floor,
the King’s stamp and I resting in the wreckage
of one hundred British women’s lives

who escaped war and then had been sunk
just off the shores of paradise— the postcard
that my father never got—

the one that convinced him to marry Mary instead,
she could play piano and had a lovely voice.
Not the giggly one my mother had.

Or I could have been the “Dear John, Met a lovely
fellow on leave, Dan Forsyth, from Alberta.
Do you know him? J. Merricks.”

Or just the card sent home to England
on V.E. Day, “Arrived safe, love to all, Jean”
end of story. But I was born, and so, I have a collection

of Hotel New Hampshire, a potato from PEI,
the largest redwood in Canada, Expo 67
and a small brown bear. On the reverse side,

the Queen reigns in the right hand corner
and a scribble crosses the small white ocean,
“Miss you, with love, Mum and Dad.”

Ditch Mint

Ditch Mint. A local answered,
biting the tip of the aromatic leaf into
her mouth and nodding, Yes.

I’m sure it is, that’s what we call it—
Another plant I’d never heard of
in the decades of pilgrimage to this lake.

This part of me needs a reset from time to time,
to go back to a simpler way of life, a chance to be
as quiet as this ancient birch, to breathe in pitch and loam.

Under a brimmed hat, I sit and watch the clouds
roll over on themselves, and before the rain,
the mountainside change its spots, the caterpillar

descend its silk to my tuna sandwich, and the mink
that dares to cross the beach. And birds
everywhere in the branches, waxwing and finch.

Catalysts for the curious; the buzz and croak
of frogs in the marsh, an eagle’s whoosh, whoosh, whoosh
overhead, that steals away my breath—

worthy awe, the nature of nature, like the perch,
bloated and milky-eyed, I found by the shore
and threw into the bog’s gaping mouth. It’s death,

an afterlife; to feed the lily pads, reeds, rushes
and mint, which, in turn cleans the lake water,
and me, what better legacy?

I let reality soak into my blood, remember that I…
we… will eventually become this awe,
in an atom of the blue jay’s feather, in the bones

of a red fox, in the essence of ditch mint, or
in the shadows on the lawn, of an old birch,
near a small cottage by a spring-fed lake of the future.

Cow Bells

We drive through the shade
of elms and maples

along mangy crops of rock
and brush, the windows

rolled down to a warm evening,
light linking golden cobwebs

on ripening soy beans. Over the hill
cows graze in an open field

and soon we hear the soft clanging
of the brass bells around their necks,

a sound so ancient, a time-capsule
of the quintessential—how to find one

animal, lost from the herd in the river-valley
after a long day of haying,

with the threat of coyotes, escape
through the fence, or injury.

No computer chip or GPS,
just a gentle far off tinkling, a slow-motion

detector, cow-activated,
transmitted by the wind across the land.


From The Bell You Hardy Hear
by Marjorie Bruhmuller
© 2017 Marjorie Bruhmuller
Published by Ekstasis Editions