Keeping Score by Jane Urquhart

urquhart keeping

urquhart keeping
The whirlpool downstream of Niagara Falls, where many bodies of people who have gone over the falls are recovered. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

The sunroom
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡in the afternoon
escalates beyond light
becoming a perfect timepiece

as she sits there
keeping score
a careful record of that
which the river offered
in the summer of ’28

the pen in the inkwell
on the walnut desk
in grandmother’s fingers

indelible tatoos
permanent labels

hair and teeth and weight

the contents of a pocket
the value of a tie-pin

‡‡‡‡‡‡as dust motes sail
across her vision she pens
the essence
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡of a definition
the answer to a question

as beside number 116
she writes

body that
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡of a small man


Source: Urquhart, Jane. False Shuffles. Victoria: Press Porcépic, 1982. Section entitled The Undertaker’s Bride. 

Click to see more of Urquhart’s The Undertaker’s Bride poems

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