Third place — Marsha Barber

Marsha Barber’s third poetry book, Love You to Pieces, was published by Ottawa’s Borealis Press in 2019. Her work has appeared in such periodicals as FreeFall, Literary Review of Canada, The Antigonish Review, The New Quarterly and The Walrus. Marsha is on faculty at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Taking His Hand                                             

 
After the driver announces a delay
because there’s been
“a personal injury
at track level”
 
those of us in the subway car
look down
will not meet
one another’s eyes.
 
Personal injury
at track level,
says the old man next to me,
in the black beret,
There’s a certain poetry
to that.
 
Even though we’re late
for appointments,
the jumper is now “late”
in that other awful sense.
 
And when we’re eventually
back at work,
drinking coffee, taking minutes,
drawing pie charts,
 
the jumper is just one more thing
that happened that day, perhaps
not even
the most memorable.
 
So why does he come to me
in my dreams that night,
his hopeful hand
reaching up from the track.

 © Marsha Barber, 2020