Kateri Lanthier is the author of Reporting from Night (Iguana Books, 2011). Her poem “The Coin Under the Leftmost Sliding Cup” won the 2013 Walrus Poetry Prize and was included in Best Canadian Poetry in English 2014 (Tightrope Books). Her work has been published in journals in Canada, the U.S. and England. Of poems in her first collection, Mark Strand wrote: “Their intensity and limpidity, their invention – all wonderful. And their narrative arc – always implicit – gives them a lovely delicacy.” Her second collection is forthcoming in Spring 2017 from Signal Editions, Véhicule Press. She lives in Toronto.
BOOKS, PUBLICATIONS, PROJECTS
Verum, sine mendacio, certum et verissimum
From gold chains of laburnum — beautiful, poisonous —
the God of Love leans out too far, drops every arrow in the water
and ceases to exist.
Rings rollick on the surface in a diagram of hell.
A green-eyed map of pleasure-pain, iris-unique, torturous
My gaze drifts on the water as if on burning air.
Nessun maggior dolore che ricordarsi del tempo felice
ne la miseria…
You fanned my hair in red-gold rays. Bull’s-eye. In one.
Your aim was true. You wrote the code, set flame and fired from the sun,
an elegant sharpshooter.
‘Separate thou the earth from the fire, the subtile from the gross
Sweetly with great indoustry.’ In your liquid-bright glance
lay a false economy,
My glistering, unlawful prize. Mad, you coaxed extravagance:
dialogue by day and night, character and pixel, byte,
Independence declared, done. You closed my throat. The drug withdrawn.
Precious pet, gold-collared swan. Tricked-out diamonds in the blood.
Bubbles in a vein.
Eyebrow-arched, this Bridge of Sighs in Nowhere-by-the-Sea.
I lean over the emerald. Catch, cold waters. Kiss goodbye
our disengagement ring.
NOTE: This poem first appeared in the anthology Drifting Down the Lane. The epigraph is the first line, in the Latin version, of the ancient text known as the Emerald Tablet or Table (regarded as the primary text in alchemy and Hermetics). Sir Isaac Newton’s translation reads: ‘Tis true without lying, certain & most true.’ Newton’s translation of line 7 of the text forms lines 13-14 of the poem. Lines 8-9 of the poem are from the Paolo and Francesca passage in Dante’s Inferno (Canto V, lines 121-123.)
I started school at Immaculée-Conception, if you can believe it.
If you believe that, just step this way into my chalk drawing.
The freckles splotched on bamboo are the tears of a jilted wife?
Each day I find new beauty spots emblazoned by the sun.
He loves me not, he loves me past the melting point of steel.
Every streetlight’s a fixed star, a star burnt out at dawn.
Battledore and shuttlecock, hobbyhorse and peepshow.
I was a self-righting toy until you changed the rules.
Inside the glassy-eyed greenhouse, flowers amp up the heat.
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. Jeunes filles en fleur taunt teacher.
The view from here to the earth’s core is quite spectacular!
The light will slow-dance on those leaves whatever day you’ve had.
Beds of roses end as bubbles in the claw-foot tub.
It only takes one burning bush to set the hills on fire.
Mary Mary, quite contrary, labour movement leader.
I’ll say it: Mariolatry left gorgeous stains on glass.
Maids with centre-parted hair, knights-errant in distress.
The temple is a wreck, but just think what we learned from this.
[First appeared on TRUCK.]