The Bigness of Small Poems – #32 in a Series – The Indefatigable Lorna Crozier – Three Poems

Canadian Poet, Lorna Crozier


 A horse made out of rain (it doesn’t need a blacksmith).
A fret of dragonflies, the thin gloss of their wings.
A yellow bicycle. Outside the door
a tall coffee can full of sand for the soul’s gritty habits.
A place where trees are happy. How can you tell?
It’s the smell they give back to the world.

Lorna Crozier (1948 – ) from What THE SOUL DOESN’T WANT, Freehand Books, 2017

This juicy morsel of a poem is from Lorna Crozier’s 17th book of poems, published earlier this year by Calgary-based Freehand Books! And her eighteenth poetry collection comes out from a major Canadian publishing house later this fall.

I am captivated by the freshness in Crozier’s language and images. A horse made out of rainA fret of dragonflies… a tall coffee can for the soul’s gritty habits. This freshness is even more notable when you consider Crozier’s prolific publishing record. Somehow her imagination keeps conjuring up language magic!

Not only her freshness, I so appreciate Crozier’s courage to tackle series of poems based on the themes that could easily attract clichés. Angels, Men, God, the Soul! To tackle the soul, one of the greatest abstractions prone to cliché, is a measure of her fearlessness and poetic skill! And you can’t get much bigger in a small poem than one with a lot of soul going on!

This summer I was going through my collection of Crozier volumes and came across her collection from twenty one years ago: A Saving Grace, written in the voice of Mrs. Bentley from Sinclair Ross’s iconic book, As For Me and My House. set in Saskatchewan, Crozier’s birthplace and spiritual touchstone. Again, Crozier’s collection is full of her surprising images and turns of phrase. Feel the bigness of this small gem:


Sky: an eye that never blinks.
So much pain in me sometimes
I bend double under its gaze,
each vertebra a stone.
That is what comes of being
too much alone. There’s no end
to it here, the sky gives you
all the room you need
to grow small.

Lorna Crozier from A Saving Grace, McClelland & Stewart, 1996

A person swallowed into insignificance by a prairie sky. The isness of that expressed like this: the sky gives you/ all the room you need/ to grow small. Ouch and ouch. What a turn of phrase.  The terror in it.

And finally, this huge, small poem, also from A Saving Grace:


By the dried-up creek one willow grows.
It knows how to douse from emptiness
its red wands, its drowsy tongues.
Bless me for I have sinned.
I have cared too much for the rain.
I have made for her a golden idol
from sheaves of wheat. Bless me, wind.
Bless me, dust. Bless me, willow.
How far in the darkness your roots must travel
to send such a speaking to the light.

Gorgeous language: dowse…red wands… drowsy tongues. The musical mirroring in douse and drowsy! Her deft echoes: I have sinned…I have cared too much…I have made… But for me it’s the last two lines that gob smack me, that keep speaking to me:

How far in the darkness your roots must travel
to send such a speaking to the light.

These are not every day lines! They speak from a soul that drinks deep from its coffee can full of sand! And Crozier is no every-day poet! She is luminous, full of a particular grace, her words how they speak to the light.

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