nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘remembering place’ Category

in these times

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Someday, my memory of these days of pandemic will have faded. But there is value in lessons learned, so I will describe my experiences here.

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My situation is that of a retired person, used to working on my writing at home and going out to do errands and some volunteer work. For my husband and I, staying home is not too different from normal life.

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1. Food. Before the pandemic, we had already shifted to getting curb-side delivery of our groceries from the Atlantic Superstore. For that reason, no shift was needed. During this time, we make an order every two weeks, ordering early to get a convenient delivery time. My husband also goes to Sobeys once every two weeks for milk and a few needed items. Both stores have good distancing measures in place and the few substitutions any store has made have not been significant. As for take-out food, we have continued to order pizza and other take-out food as before.

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2. Passing Time in Isolation. I am so lucky that my husband and I have been able to face this time together. I have not really been isolated, since there is always someone there to talk to. We do small household projects together, read a bit together in a mystery series we both enjoy, watch some TV and plan our meals.

I am a writer and my writing life is managed by working on several projects at once, each project in a different stage. I have been very productive in the last two months, completing drafts of three new poetry books, completing work on the next book in my science fiction series, and launching two books, one science fiction and one mystery. I have seen a little spike in readership in the last few weeks, as people turn to reading to pass time alone.

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3. Contributing to Local Businesses. At the best of times, we are not big consumers. But during the pandemic, I have tried to support local businesses. I have bought plants for the growing season from Scotts, art supplies and toys from Endeavours and Think Play, fabric from Fabricville and so on. These businesses have gone above and beyond to give safe and friendly service. When parcels arrive, I put them in Quarantine for three days, to minimize any risk.

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4. Getting Out and About. During the pandemic, we have taken short drives, to bird watch, check on our cabin (about 3/4 of an hour away) and deliver sold books. In a stroke of luck, I had ordered author copies of my four newest books before Amazon cut delivery service to Canada, so I have books to sell. I do what I call ‘drive-by-bookings,’ making arrangements with those who want to buy my books, hanging a bag of books on the door handle and leaving to maintain social distancing. I have also put copies of my books in some of the little free libraries in town.

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5. Staying in Touch. I am so grateful to live in the age of the internet. I am able to keep in touch with family and friends by way of email, Facebook and my blog. My two writer’s groups have held their meetings on Facebook Messenger and I have taken a writing course twice a week on Facebook. I have family members not on social media and we have kept touch by way of telephone.

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6. Staying Healthy. Our days are very routine. We focus on getting lots of sleep, keeping our intake of fruit and vegetables high, keeping in touch with our physician and diabetic health care folk. As usual, I fall short on exercise. I have mobility problems and always do a half hour program of stretches each morning. Other than that, my success in the area of exercise is rather pitiful. I say I will do better.

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7. Adaption to new standards. We are lucky in New Brunswick where I live. We have had few cases, have no new cases (according to testing) and no deaths from COVID- 19. We are in the Yellow Phase of our re-opening plan which means most business can open with social-distancing and other measures in place.

Social distancing is hard. Not because I am a huggy sort of person, but because I find confronting people difficult. If someone is getting too close, I find it hard to confront, to say back off, even in a nice way. So when the delivery fellow comes to the door and tries to pass me a box, I take it, getting nearer than I should.

As our province tries to return to ‘normal’, I know mask-wearing will become part of our culture. So I dusted off my sewing machine and scanned the many videos showing mask-making. By the end of making ten washable masks, I could do them with my eyes shut, but my back hurt and I think I sewed through my finger at least once.

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The other day, as I went through some poems I have written, I came across one about getting the H1N1 vaccine. I have almost no memory of that time in my life. Of course, our lives were not affected in quite the same way. Perhaps I will look back on the time of COVID-19 and know some things changed for the better.

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All my best.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Stay home as much as possible.

Find a safe way to talk to and be with those you love.

Jane

Written by jane tims

May 25, 2020 at 7:00 am

rafting event – what to carry when you leave home

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A few years ago, I was thinking of writing a series of poems about plant pollination and dispersal. It seemed a great idea. Poems about bumble bees and butterflies, ultra-violet landing strips and hummingbirds. Poems about burr baskets, rafting events, maple samara and dandelion parachutists. I wrote the poem below and found it so depressing, I abandoned the project. Now, as I sort through my library and wonder which books to keep, the poem seems appropriate.

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rafting event – a type of biological dispersal that occurs when terrestrial organisms transfer from one land mass to another by way of a water crossing. Often this occurs via large rafts of floating vegetation, sometimes seen floating down major rivers in the tropics and washing out to sea, occasionally with animals trapped on them.  (Source Wikipedia)

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rafting event

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Let the door handle slip

from your hand, leave

the home you’ve tried to know.

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Behind a deadpan face, dry tears

and palpitations, carry knowledge

away on a frail raft.

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Peterson Field Guides and Salinger,

a poem by Shelley,

three Shakespearean sonnets.

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They cling to the raft, these bits

of memory, rely on slippery

fronds of rough-glued vegetation.

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Recalled when someone asks

the writers you prefer or claim to have read.

You say, ‘the collected works of Heaney’.

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And is there an island where

new roots can catch and old seeds germinate?

The choice – survival or well-read.

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Hear the hinges do their work –

the dead bolt slips into the lock,

last home you will ever know.

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Copyright 2018

Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

June 1, 2018 at 4:46 pm

where we read

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I am a reader. There are stacks of read and unread books wherever you go in my house. There is a Kindle by my living-room chair and a Kobo by my bedside. Since I read multiple books at once, most are marked ‘last-page-read’.  I read the books a bit at a time, choosing whatever I think will suit me on a particular day.

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So where do I read? Anywhere!

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When I was young, I read in my bedroom. I’d take a flashlight to bed and hide under the covers to read. Mom was not fooled! When we went to Nova Scotia for summer vacation, I read in my grandfather’s orchard. There was a tree-limb perfect for sitting!

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During my university days, I read like a mad-woman, as much mystery/romance as I could absorb. I think I wanted solace from my steady diet of science texts and journal articles! My preferred reading place was my car – also a rest from the lab where I did most of my university studies.

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I still favour mysteries, especially detective series. Science fiction too. And poetry, always poetry!

A few series I’d recommend:

Chuck Bowie -“Donovan: Thief for Hire

Ann Cleeves – “Sheltland Island Mysteries

Ann Granger –  I like her older “Fran Varady Crime Novels

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Through the years, I have been constant in my reading spaces:

  • the car … for years I drove to a park on my lunch hour and cheerfully read the time away. When my son was in his early university days, I never minded waiting for him because I could read while I waited.
  • in bed … as the years go by, reading puts me to sleep faster and faster. It sometimes takes me months to read a particular book!
  • in my accustomed chair in the living room … experience with decades of public service work means I can read with any distraction.
  • in our camp at our table. No distractions, just good company.
  • but never in my planned reading space … when I retired I bought a comfy chair and designed a perfect reading corner. It is a great space to store stuff – books for my next signing, the shower head we haven’t yet installed, two throw pillows no-one wants to sit with and recent purchases not put away. When the chair is empty of stuff, it is filled with Zoë. I never read there …. never, ever.

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Where do you read? If you had a special reading spot, do you think you would use it?

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Copyright 2018 Jane Tims

 

 

Written by jane tims

February 8, 2018 at 7:00 am

time on the shore

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On this Father’s Day, I remember times spent with my dad.

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When I was a kid, he would take us to the shore near Port Maitland, Nova Scotia, to look for chunks of iron pyrite (fool’s gold) in the rocks.

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time on the shore

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1.

spit of sand

grains in an hourglass

poured through gaps

in a cobble sea

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2.

waves advance

try to tangle me

wash me, turn me

like a sea-smooth stone

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but I know about tides

I move myself inland

each hour

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3.

he watched whales blow here

saw sea horses dance

filled his pockets with sea glass

pitied the sandpiper

sprinkling tracks the waves erase

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I hear the hiss of air

the echoing wail

small stallions prance on my toes

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I close my eyes

forget to move

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4.

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he takes us prospecting

we wedge into crevasses

keen for pyrite gold

cube within cube

embedded in stone

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we always forget the hammer

we chip and scratch with fingernails

reach across rock

dare the waves

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a sanderling cries

quit quit!

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6.

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shorebirds

befriend me

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a dowitcher sews a seam with her bill

bastes salt water to shore

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the sanderling shoos back the tide

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terns

plunge into the ocean

and complain they are wet

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Published as: ‘Time on the Shore’, Canadian Stories 16 (89), February/March 2013

Part of manuscript ‘mnemonic‘ winner of the Alfred G. Bailey Prize, Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick 2016 Writing Competition

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

 

Written by jane tims

June 18, 2017 at 2:42 pm

lost communities – an old flower garden

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Do you ever see an old flower garden, no house in sight, growing alone, expanding and reseeding where it can?

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On our drives to find old one room school houses in the landscape, we often find bits of domesticated flowers, indicating a home once flourished there. Sometimes these old gardens are all that is left of a rural community.

 

I have seen first hand, how many small rural communities in New Brunswick are little more than memories.

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A good example of this is Fredericksburg near Stanley in York County. Today it is a pleasant rural landscape with three or four homes. In 1866 Fredericksburg was a farming settlement with approximately 12 families. This information comes from an information-packed website from the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick: ‘Place Names of New Brunswick: Where is Home? New Brunswick Communities Past and Present’. By typing the name of a community, you can discover information about original land grants, the size of a community in the eighteen hundreds, how many families lived there, the population and whether there was a post office, store, or church.  http://archives.gnb.ca/exhibits/communities/Home.aspx?culture=en-CA

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I am sorry these are not better photos, but the colour among all the green shows the remnants of a flower garden that someone once loved.

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Musk Mallow (Malva moschata) …

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Common Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) …

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Some more Foxglove and blue Bachelors Button (Centaurea cyanus) …

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Lupin  (Lupinus perennis). I don’t know the identity of the white flowers, but they make a lovely overall ‘bouquet’!

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Have you seen any abandoned flower gardens? Do you wonder what stories they would tell?

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

August 24, 2016 at 7:38 am

one room school houses – hiding in the landscape

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Last Friday, we took a drive along the west side of Grand Lake, in the Youngs Cove area of Queens County, New Brunswick. We were searching for old one room school houses. As far as I know, there is no list for these buildings in Queens County, New Brunswick, although a list does exist for nearby Kings County.

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I had seen one old school in the Whites Cove area, so we began there. This school was operated as a local craft store for a few years but is now a private cottage. The one room school is in good shape, painted bright red. The round plaque in the gable of the roof says 1837. The building had two front doors – one for boys and one for girls.

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white's cove school house 5

Whites Cove school house

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We then continued toward Chipman, taking old roads when possible. I know that in the late 1800s and early 1900s, each small community (each Parish) had its own school, so we watched for the tell-tale design of the one room school house – a small, rectangular, one-storey building with a steep-sloped roof and rather high side walls. Each school had two or three tall rectangular windows on each side and one or two front doors. Some New Brunswick schools had a small anteroom or vestibule on the front. The bell-tower common on school houses in the United States was not typical of one room schools in New Brunswick.

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We followed the road along the shoreline of the peninsulas extending into Grand Lake. In particular, we were watching for the older homes that show what the community may have looked like a hundred years ago.

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As we came over a hill, we first saw the Rees school house. It had some of the characteristics I describe above. However, I am new to one room school hunting, so I was not really certain this little building had once been a school. And then my husband pointed to the sign on the small road opposite the building – School House Lane. The school house was being used as a cottage and was in poor condition with broken windows and a crumbled brick chimney. But I was happy to see the original stone foundation, a straight roof line, a large flat stone as a threshold, original clapboard on the front of the building, and evidence of the original vestibule.

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Rees school house

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Thrilled by our discovery, we continued to the next community and followed a side road. Almost immediately, we saw the Cumberland Bay School, announced by a sign above the door. It was a typical school house design, built on a hill. There was a rock foundation (with some brick) and a straight roof. The building was in good shape with evidence of regular maintenance and use, perhaps as a hall. A cold wind was howling and I felt sorry for the kids who must have come to school in all kinds of bitter weather.

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Cumberland Bay school house

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After seeing three school houses, we felt like pros. We took the next road along the shore, toward Cox Point, and found a school house outside the community of Range. It was set back from the road, used in conjunction with a family cottage. The roof was straight, the side windows were intact  and the shingles were in good repair.

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Range school house

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I was delighted with our drive – we had discovered three school houses we did not know about! I also got a feel for some of the characteristics of these buildings and how they fit into the local landscape.

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Old Schools in Youngs Cove area 2016

a map showing the old school houses we found … you can see a pattern emerging … I expect there were once school houses in some of the other communities indicated on the map

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Why am I interested in this topic? My interests in landscape, the environment and history all come into play. I am also beginning to think about my next poetry project and have decided to explore the idea of school houses in the landscape.

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To do this project, I will think about the setting of the school house in the community and how topography (hills and lakes and rivers), vegetation (fields and forests, orchards and big old swinging-trees) and other built landscape (bridges, churches, stores and farms) would have influenced the students, teachers and members of the community.  Visits to old schools, some talk with people who remember attending these old school houses and reading at the Provincial Archives would give me lots of material for my writing.

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Do you have examples of old one room school houses in your area? Did you attend school in a one room school house? I would love to hear your stories!

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Happy Easter!!!

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I once decorated for Easter almost as much as for Christmas. But I am busier than ever and won’t get out all those boxes this year. However, I cannot resist putting my small bunnies and chicks/ducks out on display. Happy Easter!!!

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Do you decorate for Easter?

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 26, 2016 at 6:12 pm

washday

with 12 comments

A few years ago, we took a vacation to les Îles de la Madeleines, also known as the Magdalen Islands, in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and part of the Province of Quebec.  We loved the ferry rides to and from the Islands, the endless white sand beaches, the artisans, and the demonstrations of wind sailing.  Most of all, I loved the colourful houses.  I always planned to try to capture the beaches and those houses in a painting.  I finally completed my tryptic called ‘washday #1’, ‘washday #2’ and ‘washday #3’.

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June 9, 2015 'washday#1' Jane Tims

June 9, 2015 ‘washday#1’ Jane Tims

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June 9, 2015 'washday#2' Jane Tims

June 9, 2015 ‘washday#2’ Jane Tims

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June 9, 2015 'washday#3' Jane Tims

June 9, 2015 ‘washday#3’ Jane Tims

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And the three together:

June 9, 2015 'washday'  Jane Tims

June 9, 2015 ‘washday’ Jane Tims

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

forward direction

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Going over some older writing, I discovered the poem below. Retired now, I remember days when I thought I couldn’t take another minute of work situations I can’t now even remember.  A good message for me when I feel stressed.  Ask myself if I will even recall the circumstances of this moment years from now.  The photos are from a drive to work in 2011.

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in car-contained wrath

aftermath of a stress-filled day

a shadow cloud of dots and dashes crosses

my road, there and gone

feathered beings, perhaps

a murmuration of birds

or an incantation of angels

wing tips backward beating

frail quills and  a message

to go forward

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early autumn morning

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lots of fog on a morning commute

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looks like this was a drive ‘to’ work and I was late … no wonder I was stressed!

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green means ‘go forward’

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

June 3, 2015 at 7:02 am

places for writers … writing workshops – part two

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Sometimes the ‘place’ experienced at a writing workshop is the local area, the community where the workshop is held.  I wrote this poem in 2014 after a writing workshop at WordSpring in Saint Andrews (New Brunswick) …

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'oak leaves and acorns'

‘oak leaves and acorns’

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encounters

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on a windy night

in Saint Andrews, a toad

out of place, hop-toddies across

the street

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also, on Prince of Wales, a deer

pauses on the sidewalk, stares

up the hill, and I hesitate

before driving on

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in the Algonquin, a light

switches on, in the room I know is mine

and a couple huddles on the hotel porch

their attitude more suited to summer

than a night when leaves skip

mottled across the street

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Previously published in ‘writing weekend’, June, 2014,  http://www.nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com

Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 15, 2015 at 7:51 am

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