Canadian Poetry Review

current issue
featured poet
poem of the week
lives of the poets
poetry near you
alan crawley victoria poetry award
about us
contact us

Joanne Morency

Joanne Morency lives on the Gaspé Peninsula in eastern Quebec. She has published four poetry collections with Montréal’s Éditions Triptyque and two books of haibun (poetic prose and haiku) with Ottawa’s Éditions David. She has received several awards including the 2015 CBC poetry prize and the 2010 award for a first collection in Paris.

Translator: Jill Varley’s studies in literature and languages have taken her to the University of Regina, Université Laval, and Montréal’s McGill and Concordia Universities. She holds a Masters in English Literature and is currently completing her Masters in Translation Studies.

The Sound of Disappearing

A piece of driftwood carried into the water. This sound of disappearing…

A dying landscape. The glint in the eye soon snuffed out. We lose our mother only once. Childhood is ripped from the flesh. A world without oxygen.


Earth tremors. This knack for shifting in an instant from laughter to tears, from celebration to disaster. North Pole, South Pole. A love song after the news on the radio. The task of living. The rage of running.

Fine rain that glances off the face. A membrane over the skin. One mask over another.

Memory is a slow, low hanging sky.


The day fades. Too soon. Before anyone has finished with the light.

We would have to play three roles at once. Mend each ending. Instead we get back on the road, as if we could invent time. Condemned to die again and again, with each hello and each goodbye.


I swallow fruit that tastes like winter and shadow. I turn to a friend, then to another, back to square one where we start a new game of building scenery, tireless in our pleasure. Our parcels of human land.

The sea runs alongside our lives. We suppose that if we left her shores for good, we would be reborn elsewhere, bereft of air.


Pinned to the bedside of the unfinished story, we paint portraits of the living. They will smile until the end of time. We will cover our walls with immortality in little wooden frames. We will try to repeat the right gestures. Nothing but love in the eyes.

Will we be strong enough to capture all the colours before us? Or will we hold back and mourn that they will soon be lost?


Here we are, all worn out. Worn down by the earth. By the impossible waves. By the sun, like a war drawing near.

We lengthen the horizon in a perfect falsehood. The blue of the world runs ever farther away. And with the shell we break down words. We take each smile as absolute proof. Dumbfounded, like a very old cat who must change his ways.


Springtime is mute, but we hear it. A crocus carpet under the snow, the cadence of a new glow. Closer than ever, the sky-blue of a laughing voice, hands filled with small berries brought back from the darkness.

This light in the palm, when we had given up hope. These colours expanding without fading. All things, suddenly, seem to recognize one another.

A white goose on a white backdrop…And we relive our first heartbeat. The glass is gone between self and world. A continent we had thought so distant is moving through us.


Drifting ice. Rushing water. We must undo all the divisions carved in the palm of our hands.

I look around me for new keepsakes. Dream that I have many bodies. I no longer know where to put them in such a vast dwelling place.

We find a passage between joy and sorrow. A country under the whiteness. No need for a sun. The warmth will be forever. We will reunite the day with his night.

From Song of the Open Sea
by Joanne Morency
© 2014 Joanne Morency
Translation © 2017 Jill Varley
Published by Ekstasis Editions