String of Mysteries is from Hidden Brook Press (c) 2008
These poems explore with fascination the myriad of mysteries in everyday life. They weave images, lace together seemingly disparate vignettes, and string the reader along on a journey of sorrow and joy, searching and epiphany. Ranging from luminous instants in mundane family moments in “Blood Ties,” to reflections on the life of Jesus in “Strand of Light,” to ruminations on the many shining signs of One-ness in “Filaments,” these poems loop back on themselves and come to view images from many angles. The themes of interconnectedness, of life and death, of lessons in the “snags,” make the fabric of this book rich in its many layers. These poems become meditations in themselves. — Kathy Murtha, editorial board, Canadian Women’s Studies Journal.
Katie Marshall Flaherty’s poetry gives us the front porches and backyards of “the nation of the heart.” A man making pickles, children reading fairytales by flashlight, a woman holding the head of her dying friend –- in each poem, we are taken inside a place we know to be home. Here is a collection that celebrates, above all, what it means to be alive in the world. – Anne Simpson, Griffin Poetry Prize, Canadian Winner, 2004
Sample poems from String of Mysteries
On this train, snow
wings past the window,
near strangers murmur;
the Canada geese are flying out
of formation, gone from my sight
by the time, perhaps, they reach V.
Which is home for them?
North or South.
Recalling the tale of the goose
who pecked the barn window
year after year after year
after his mate’s grounding
I think of you, Bev;
how illness plucks us
out of V-point,
scatters the pattern,
calls us to falling
back to rest on the draft, current
of others’ wings; to letting
the Other take the tip
that cuts the harsh air.
Dis-ease sends us North.
To places of glace,
where clear winds pierce
doubt curling like frost.
Like the geese, we head home—
faith blue in the amazing sky—
leaning on lift,
trusting in body-truth,
in the silence of air
for the honk
and sweep of angels.
Pictures taped on the wall,
tenderly showing sequence—
panties before skirt, socks before shoes—set me
wondering what an Alzheimer mind
feels like inside …
scrolling back to childhood
where daughters seem sisters,
déjà vus cobweb, and
Sleepwalkers startle and wake
under snowy lamp-posts
where I think I must know you but
your name dissolves like tissue in a tub.
Such a mind
a stalwart mule refusing the harness
and cart: ox cart, oxo cubes, hugs and kisses,
signatures flatten to a scrawl and this
was once poetry with words like luminous and
They say you stew in your own juices—
if you were sweet you thicken; if sour, then
Old Sneep sucking on a lemon.
How is it amnesia doesn’t wipe away language?
The life-story forgotten but not the words;
we lost the way but not the meaning
I am lost.
Aren’t we all? And to be
shuffling down the corridor vague as melting clocks,
dilly dally, daily times and dill pickles, doorknobs
opening the tin and sons become brothers,
names fall away like flesh from soup-stock bones.
Lily pad thoughts float on murky ponds,
white and clean as these daisys on the gurney,
chalk-white like the nurses’sensible shoes but somehow
those fingernails on a slate, black hole
sucking in everything like a hoover;
eightball rebounding but never sunk.
And sometimes, after long long days of staring
Oh! Lemon squares!