Still, Life – Fiona Tinwei Lam

Still, Life

No ladder, no kids to shake them down,
the high stubborn apples have gripped
the gnarled arms of their tree
after the descent of leaves, the last snowfall.
Still yellow, mere husks
sourly persisting as humans do.
Who do we wait for,
who awaits us?

Nascent leaves furled and tensed in their buds.
A few crocus tips in half-frozen soil.
How can these apples
imagine appleness now?

By the stove, a bowl of static apples
probably picked months ago, their ripening slowed
in the cool dark of shipping containers.
A still life, I tell my son, and point
at colour plates of Cezanne, Picasso.
The fruit does not move,
composed and stuck in some precise
slice of light and time.

He runs to the table to sketch out
the tree, the ground. Then the apples,
with new blue capes billowing out in the air.
They leap from their branches, never
falling to their glorious fate.

Fiona Tinwei Lam is the author of two books of poetry, Intimate Distances (finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Prize) and Enter the Chrysanthemum. Her work has been chosen twice for BC’s Poetry in transit, and has been included in over twenty anthologies, including The Best Canadian Poetry 2010, In Fine Form: An anthology of Canadian Form Poetry, and Force Field: An anthology of 77 BC Women Poets. She is a co-editor of and contributor to the non-fiction anthology, Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood (McGill-Queen’s, 2008), as well as the editor of The Bright Well, a collection of contemporary Canadian poems about facing cancer (Leaf Press, 2011). Her children’s book, The Rainbow Rocket, is forthcoming this spring with Oolichan Books.

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