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My Poem of Halifax

by Jack Anderson

The liner docks.
I walk through an empty customs shed.
I echo.
No one stops me.
I am in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
There was snow all day.
It is not snowing now.
The snowbanks are up to my ankles at the curbs.
Shop windows warm with checked woolen shirts.
Christmas nears.
Strangers stop and greet each other—in other words,
They know each other but are strangers to me.
I sit in a restaurant drinking hot chocolate,
Very hot, very sweet.
Hot chocolate is something I usually don’t drink.
The people around me are drinking hot chocolate.
The windows steam over.
I start thinking of words, foreign words
I can’t pronounce.
It is time to go.
I say a few words. I pay my check.
Christmas comes closer.
The liner departs.
It will be a long while
Before it pulls in
Anywhere else.
                                Fill in
The blanks, please:
They are waiting for you,
For by now you know enough
To call this poem
“A Poem of Halifax”—no, this is
“Your Poem
Of Halifax”: in Halifax
They build ships,
The ships go out,
They make rope and twine for nets. Yes,
“The Nets of Halifax”
Is what my poem
Means.

 

Jack Anderson is the author of two book and has received a National Endwoment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship for 1973-74. (Fall 1974)


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