Heroes and Antiheroes: "pieces of moon" by Katherena Vermette

Original writing from Governor General's Literary-award winning author of North End Love Songs.
Katherena Vermette is the author of the novel The Break. (CBC)

With support from the Canada Council for the Arts, CBC Books is proud to present "Heroes and Antiheroes," a literary series featuring original new writing by five Governor General's Literary Award winners on the meaning of heroism — and how easily it can be inverted.

In this piece, Katherena Vermette — who won the GG for poetry in 2013 for North End Love Songs — observes a fellow commuter's pilgrimage.

pieces of moon

sometimes in the morning
we can see 
pieces of moon left behind
clear quartz in dull stone
bright white in the changing blue
they fade quick
are easy to miss

she sat at the front of the bus
delicate in her still-dark still-long hair
homemade white toque 
balled and clean
thick treaty-glasses over 
far-seeing eyes 
her journey 
in the lines around them
in her outstretched bones

she got off
by the graveyard
pulled the cord and edged 
her metal walker to her side
small body slow
legs bent in polyester-brown crescents 
her arms stretched the walker out
her body limped after it
the still-dark winter morning
snow danced 
in the growing blue
but she didn't notice it 
or the still-black stones behind 
the high wrought-iron fence 
only the high snow 
pounded over
not yet cleared

she turned a half circle
at the crosswalk
the wheels of her walker 
catching the too-high edges
swollen knuckles in worn gloves
but firm on the handle
her movements more 
a stumbling for safe landing
a reaching out 

she made her way
all the way 
to the glass doors 
with crumbling ink-etched words
"Indian Church"
each letter breaking off
bit by bit
her tiny shoulders 
bird-like but not bent 
like her body
and then the bright of her
disappeared inside
as smooth
as the moon
in her leaving

HEROES AND ANTIHEROES: New original writing from Governor General's Literary Award winners


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