Saturday, May 2, 2015

"Gathering" by Steven Mayoff


Between the stream of traffic
and the water's drifting
empty benches face
the bandstand - bare, a gathering
of our aloneness.

A breeze trills
for no one, sunning leaves
and the low wall's
stoned-in knowledge.

Wooden steps lead up to four posts
holding a roof of weathered
boards and skylight.

The bandstand hollows us out

becomes a shelter for
our forgetting: a child's gallop,
the aged shuffle…

the soft crunch
over gravel unraveling

those first moments
we heard that winding
refrain, anticipating
always the never again. 

About the Poet:  Steven Mayoff is a full-time writer living in Prince Edward Island, Canada. His fiction and poetry have appeared in literary journals across Canada and the U.S., as well as in Ireland, France and Algeria. In 2010, his story collection Fatted Calf Blues won the PEI Book Award for Fiction.  His first novel, Our Lady Of Steerage, will be published in May 2015. He is currently writing the libretto for an opera, Sikutopia (in collaboration with Greenlandic composer, Arnannguaq Gerstrøm) and working on his first poetry collection, Red Planet Postcards.

Poet's Notes:  This poem came out of a writing exercise during a poetry workshop. We were asked to find a spot and write about it. The workshop took place in a small town in Nova Scotia, and I discovered a bandshell with a few benches situated between a pharmacy parking lot and a river. Empty and isolated, this small gathering place seemed to connect the mundane everyday life of the town and its more picturesque, bucolic aspect, while somehow evoking a sense of lost hope, which I hope the poem captures in the last four lines.

Editor's Note:  The rhymes and near-rhymes enhance the aural quality of this poem, and I find the poetic conceit haunting. "Gathering" was first published in Mobius Magazine, November 2007.

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