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Sunday, October 30, 2011


The Things I Carry

Know that I am a survivor
of sorts.

All I want or need
zippers into four pockets:
the curved spaces of
this canvas knapsack which cleaves
to my back.

Look and you will find
precious little.
These scraps of cloth, falling
loose like skin.
Slapped clean on stone,
they are finest gossamer,
their colours recoiling from
the sky's blind glare.
Holes that were socks,
the lace of underthings,
sandals I flip-flop on
down malarial halls,
where a bald bulb rattles,
loses against the night.

I have my weapons, too.
A blood-red Victorinox,
its stainless blade smeared with goat
cheese, cactus pear. This web of
netting, floating over my bed
now like cloud, whose smallest wounds
I have stitched and stitched again.

Not least,
these blank, blue-lined books.
Tucked between the leaves:
shells, sand, a desert wind, details for
stories I will never set down.

Hidden better still are
the notes I translate into
currencies with meanings I have learned
to appreciate. This moulded passport
bearing stamps, a number,
the black-and-white photograph
of a girl I once knew.

By Karen Shenfeld

Karen Shenfeld

Karen Shenfeld is a poet, journalist, editor, and filmmaker living in Toronto. She has
published three books of poetry with Guernica Editions: The Law of Return (which won
the Canadian Jewish Book Award for poetry in 2001), The Fertile Crescent, and, most
recently, My Father’s Hands Spoke in Yiddish. Her freelance articles have appeared in
major Canadian magazines, including Saturday Night and Toronto Life. Her personal
documentary, Il Giardino, The Gardens of Little Italy, was screened at the 2007 Planet in
Focus International Film and Video Festival. She is currently at work on a fourth book of
poetry and two new documentary films.

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