Patrick Lane R.I.P. (March 26th, 1939 – March 7th, 2019)

Patrick Lane, beloved Canadian poet and treasured friend. Photo Credit: Richard Osler

When I Sleep

When I sleep the birds come to the garden
With their gifts of seeds out of ice
Last year’s leaves of grass lift into night.
All my songs have been one song.
The palm of my hand and the sole of my foot
remember everything I have forgotten.
The old lantern by the pond has always been there.
Now is the time to light it.

Patrick Lane from The Collected Poems, Harbour Publishing, 2011

Patrick Lane once said poets should not be afraid of clichés but find a way to bust them, make them new, surprising. Patrick Lane is dead. And I want to be the first to say: Stop all the clocks. But Auden said it first. And it’s over-known now, I know.

Instead I want to say let the beetles know, the ones that walked through his poems. I want to say let all the birds know. And let the cougar know, who drank from a pool as Lane looked on and the cougar looked back at him. I want to say what words can’t say.

But what I will say: All your songs were one song. And I will sing them on. And I promise I will not leave my lantern unlit.

I love you , my teacher, my friend.