Jo Langdon

Three Poems

Gösser Straße 79
for Michelle

Snow crowns the letterbox,
remakes every part of the street;

by day the sky is uncoloured,
skaters pattern the lake.

In the bluish-mauve dusk,
children whisper
by the window –

in the glass, a globe of light
beside their small faces –

‘We’ve got to tell Mama
the moon is half broken’,

& when you look, it is.


She writes to tell him
that, staring into the dark,
mountains don’t change.

How in sleep she has
discovered she can
breathe oceans;

knows every star,
calling each one
by name.

From the reverse of
a gloss-paper

he learns that she
joins her letters


There was a night you dragged all the furniture out into the hallway,
lifted the carpet on your bedroom floor & coloured the ground beneath

with clay-thick paints, charting seas & landmasses, the world opening up
like a book across the flooring: emerald plant life & moon rock-glaciers;

coastlines cliffed & jagged, or bordered by clear blue shallows, treasured
with coral & pearls. Rivers breaking through the earth like veins,

& the band of equator splitting the picture in two. You painted yourself
into a corner & slept the night there, resting your head against the wall,

skin stained & hair matted with dye. Nights later we replaced the bed
& I found myself on my back with my head over Sweden & Botswana

somewhere beneath my feet. You soft-talking to me from your pillow,
hair spilled about Canada & feet dipped in the South Pacific Ocean.

Weeks after this you brought home white paint, thickened it with flour
& cornstarch, & raked a whirling white mass across your atlas.

You applied threads of rain & grey-leaded lightning bolts to the edges
of cumulonimbus formations, then thinned them with water & turps

letting expanses of Earth show through beneath wisps of cirrus. We made flocks
of paper birds with precise folds, wings & beaks sharp, & strung these from

the starred ceiling, migrating south into the stars. Your room was a wilderness
of space & Earth, disproportionate, & for a time we were the centre of it.

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