Surprised by Joy

by Penn Kemp


Blackbird on Cherry Tree


Blessed be here. Blessed be finches
who vary their song in language only
other birds interpret. Blessed be squirrels
who scold all intruders into submission.

Blessed be hostas and fern, mixing wild
with cultivated. Blessed be composted
soil that allows for splendid fluorescence.
Blessed be standing waves over the shoal.

Blessed be silent wing of crow and when it
lands on a spruce branch, that raucous caw.
Blessed be the interchange of story, space
to be alone together. Blessed be silence.

Blessed be the daily, the expanse of time.
Blessed be the dream. Blessed be night
that covers the shore in a moiré spread.

Blessed be the bare black cherry, dead
in winter’s past blast but ready to turn
into fire’s best wood, slow- burning,

hot. Blessed be the poet whose refrain
runs through a still too busy brain still
listening, listening to the river’s flow.

Carp leap and fall, circling in stream.
Like calls to like through brightening air
as Persephone arrives, as she returns.

Penn Kemp

Penn Kemp has been active in Canada’s literary scene since her first publication of poetry, Bearing Down, by Coach House (1972). As well as editing Canada’s first anthology of women’s writing, IS 14 (1973), she wrote the first play produced in Canada about abortion rights. She was London's inaugural Poet Laureate and the League of Canadian Poets’ Spoken Word Artist, 2015. Multimedia works are up on Her 2018 poetry books are Local Heroes (Insomniac Press) and Fox Haunts(Aeolus).

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