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Heidi Garnett – Blood Orange

Heidi Garnett – Blood Orange

Blood Orange ponders the resilience of the human spirit as it explores the meaning of home (Heimat) and homelessness, and circles themes such as forced displacement and loss. Memory is interrogated, but never completely trusted as the poems shift back and forth between post-war Poland and western Canada, the past and present day and other unnameable time frames. Life and death, eros and thantos intermingle in a world in which a mother braids her child’s hair with hands of smoke and “where there is nowhere to sit comfortably” or feel safe, a world in which one is forever a refugee and without legitimate citizenship.

Heidi Garnett author photo

Heidi Garnett was born near Gdansk (Danzig) during the Second World War. Prior to being expulsed in 1945-46, her Mennonite family had farmed the delta called the Danziger Werder since the 1570s. Her poems have been published in literary journals and anthologies across Canada, in England and in California. She was shortlisted for the Arvon prize in London and runner-up for the Rattle prize in Los Angeles. In addition she has won the Descant Winston Collins prize and placed or been shortlisted in poetry contests sponsored by Canada Writes, Arc, Antigonish Review, Fiddlehead, CV2, Freefall and Room. She was awarded the Timothy Findlay scholarship by Humber College for her fiction work and included in The Best Canadian Poetry in English, ed. Stephanie Bolster, in 2008. She graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC Okanagan in 2010.


Our Black Dog Who Disappeared

Sits at the back door and barks to be let in.
He offers no explanations,
but looks well fed as a cucumber
and guilty as a radish –
that little traitor – I wonder where he has been.

He follows me to the garden
and watches as I dig potatoes.
I make a show of stuffing them,
eyes and all, into burlap sacks
and dragging them to the root cellar.

He settles in his old spot on the back deck,
his eyes water bowls skinned with dust,
the kind crows might drink from
or drop corn seeds in to watch them sink.

Second Sight

A bomber’s navigator charts a glittering river
visible now and again through clouds below,
a ribbon dropped by his daughter
unwinding over rolling green countryside,
beaded rhinestone, head filled with flowers,
May in Amsterdam after Anne Frank. A woman,
faceless under her Breugelian hat, crouches to plant lettuce seedlings.
A robin lines a nest with hair plucked from a skeleton.
There’s so much we must be witness to. Soon,
chimney stacks, roads, a factory, an assigned target,
but, then again, maybe not.
Perhaps, like a lost man, the pilot has circled back
to where he began. Men wielding two-handed saws between them
cut trees down in a forest that has never been logged.
The trees fall without complaint. A stump is a lonely thing.
The bay doors open. Bombs drop
as if they’re sleepwalking.