Lorna Crozier

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Lorna Crozier (1948 – ) needs little introduction to Canadian readers. But she also has an international following and her recent volume The Blue Hour of the Day was singled out for particular praise by Ursula Le Guin. Author of 14 books of poetry, she has won the Governor General’s Award and most recently the 2010 B.C. Book Prize for her memoir small beneath the sky. Crozier’s images leap from the page yet never leave the narrative behind. Her poem Fear of Snakes, included here bursts out with a lyric intensity that makes the ensuing narrative even more harrowing.


It’s not the antelope’s
golden leaps across the grasslands
but how she stops

drops to her knees at the barbed-wire fence
and crawls under
then springs when she’s on her feet again

So too with you. The beauty’s in
your fall, your startled
grace –

turning on
the hinges of your neck, waist, and knees
how you bend –

from Blue Hour of the Day, McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 2007 p.224

Packing for the Future: Instructions

Take the thickest socks.
Wherever you’re going
you’ll have to walk.

There may be water.
There may be stones.
There may be high places
you cannot go without
the hope socks bring you,
the way they hold you
to the earth.

At least one pair must be new,
must be blue as a wish
hand-knit by your mother
in her sleep.


Take a leather satchel,
a velvet bag an old tin box –
a salamander painted on the lid.

That is to carry that small thing
you cannot leave. Perhaps the key
you’ve kept though it doesn’t fit
any lock you know,
the photograph that keeps you sane,
a ball of string to lead you out
though you can’t walk back
into that light.

In your bag leave room for sadness,
leave room for another language.

There may be doors nailed shut.
There may be painted windows.
There may be signs that warn you
to be gone.Take the dream
you’ve been having since
you were a child, the one
with open fields and the wind


Mistrust no one who offers you
water from a well, a songbird’s feather,
something that’s been mended twice.
Always travel lighter
than the heart.

From The Blue Hour of the Day, p. 173

Fear of Snakes

The snake can separate itself
from its shadow, move on ribbons of light,
taste the air, the morning and the evening,
the darkness at the heart of things. I remember
when my fear of snakes left for good,
it fell behind me like an old skin. In Swift Current
the boys found a huge snake and chased me
down the alleys, Larry Moen carrying it like a green torch,
the others yelling, Drop it down her back, my terror
of it sliding in the runnel of my spine (Larry,
the one who touched the inside of my legs on the swing,
an older boy we knew we shouldn’t get close to
with our little dresses, our soft skin), my brother
saying Let her go, and I crouched behind the caraganas,
watched Larry nail the snake to a telephone pole.
It twisted on twin points of light, unable to crawl
out of its pain, its mouth opening, the red
tongue tasting its own terror, I loved it then,
that snake. The boys standing there with their stupid hands
dangling from their wrists, the beautiful green
mouth opening, a terrible dark O
no one could hear.

From The Blue Hour of the Day, p.31

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