It's been a bit since Book Talk by the Sea has featured a Poem of the Week, and today it returns. Poetry complements all seasons, but there's a particular soothing quality to the way it embraces autumn's nostalgic aura and earthy undertones. Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang's poem "Visit" uses typical autumnal elements of leaves, apples, and orchards but with them encases a brief, haunting, beautiful narrative of familial love and loss. It reminds us that father-daughter relationships (and our bodies) are of the earth, as too is the harvest of autumn.
Tsiang is a poet and children's book author from Kingston, Ontario. Her debut collection of poetry, Sweet Devilry, was published in 2011, and she has gone to write additional award-winning work, much of which is full of the experiences of motherhood. "Visit" was featured as part of the League of Canadian Poets' Poem in Your Pocket Day collection.
I saw my father yesterday,
sitting on the wall of his mausoleum.
He held my hand and told me he forgave me
and I asked, for what?
He smelled of apples, an autumn of leaves
for skin. I remember you like this, I said,
a harvest—an orchard of a man.
He opened his shirt, plucked a plum
from his lungs and held it out to me.
Everything, he said, is a way of remembering.
- Sarah Tsiang
From Sweet Devilry