Two Poems by Christine Potter

Snapshots with Strangers

I think of people whose pictures I have taken but
never spoken to — the shoulder in a red t-shirt just
past my husband’s plate of fried oysters, or someone
on the Cabot Trail fifteen feet in front of us, head so

engulfed by a white blaze of sun that I can’t tell you
anything more: a hiker. Easter four years ago — a
dark-haired couple in the dark pub after Good Friday
night services. They were laughing together. I don’t

know if they’d met that night or had been married
for a decade. We were laughing, too, despite the date;
the rope to the church bell had frayed, then broken
while we were tolling thirty-three, taking from Jesus

three or four years of earthly life. My husband was
ringing and he’d come out of the tower giggling, with
the rope over his shoulders like a cape — or a noose.
Likely, we’re all in the background of someone else’s

snapshot, unknowing. We are laughing even though
at the next table, somebody’s father has just died, or
one day soon, someone else will run a fever and then
too many of us will. We’ll still take pictures, though—

See? I got here — masks dropped to show our smiles,
the slate-colored mountains behind us, a lake full of
boats just launched for summer, that squinty glitter.
See? I made it at last, and all of you along with me.

Cold, Sideways Rain

Thing is, I know how to do cold — Spring’s what
I have to learn each year. Winter’s in me on autopilot;
like arriving home in my car and not remembering
the turn I made from 303 onto Lake Road because I

don’t have to. When we rent a cottage in July, on the
beach, I wish for an excuse to light the wood stove.
The sea flaps like a blue sheet hung on somebody’s
windy clothesline. Noontime sun prickles my scalp

where I part my hair—no matter. I dream about how
the fieldstone library in our temporary downtown looks
in snow. I do not hate today’s cold, sideways rain. Even
under a murky sky, it’s see-through tinsel, a silver-gray

celebration, every drop of it a quiet chime ringing all the
hours backwards. Could this be what it takes to stop time?

About the author

Christine Potter is a poet and writer who has been to Canada, Europe, the US and the UK, but like most of us, travels…

Read the full bio

Issue 24 · Autumn 2021

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