Author Archives: Janet Barkhouse

Janet Barkhouse

About Janet Barkhouse

Janet Barkhouse’s poems and stories have been published across Canada in such journals as CV2, Literary Review of Canada, Riddle Fence, Room Magazine, and The New Quarterly. Her debut collection of poems, Salt Fires, published by Pottersfield Press in the fall of 2018, follows on two chapbooks, Silence and Sable Island Fieldnotes (with photographs by Zoe Lucas); a “docupoem” short film screened at Lunenburg Doc Fest 2017; and three children’s books. Janet lives on Nova Scotia’s South Shore.

Words Fail Me

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Autumn by Phyllis Koppel

 

Words Fail Me

Snow is falling in my brain, gentle,
relentless. It starts with a small silence,

a gap
in the easy rhythm of talk. A familiar word fails

to arrive.
Bewildered by the changing landscape,

beginning to be frightened, I push on,
awkwardly: hard to keep up

appearances. Listeners glance away, pretend
not to notice, or supply quick replacements, share

their own stories of missing nouns. Cold comfort
to think this a preparation for death,

a gradual letting go of words, mind,
their interplay, once so full of colour,

like                      those trees in fall, leaves
red, red-gold — what are they called? —

I used to know the Latin name —
now smothered in blank white.

Surely I am not so far from home, have known
these woods since childhood, found

gifts of chanterelles, black trumpets — ah!
I think I recognize a known thing, plunge

grateful hands into                      a drift.

 

“Words Fail Me” read by Janet Barkhouse