Simpson was shortlisted for the 2002 Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic
Fiction Award and was the winner of the 2001 Atlantic Poetry Prize
(Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia) for Light Falls Through
You. Mayfly will be published in 2004 by Jack Pine
opens. Yesterday it was furled, tight. Now the ceremonial carpets
have been unrolled. Soon a miniature pope will come to stand at
the balcony. No one will be able to hear what he's saying. Listen
closely for the tiny bells, watch for the flicker of something
gold. After the prayers, the blades of grass will be blessed.
Inside each thing you can see the spaciousness of cathedrals.
light glides across her skin when she moves her arms. It streams
over her and rushes away. There are days when it pours right through
her. She thinks of the summer Matisse worked at Collioure. He
began painting before dawn and worked through the day, hour after
hour. He worked until his hands were tired, but even then he didn't
stop. Sometimes there was so much light on the ocean he thought
it would blind him.
her fingers there's marram grass, blade-thin, and a straggle of
beach pea. Further away: the skull of a deer or a dog, half-buried
in sand. The silvery log - where she's resting her head - is nothing
more than a bleached bone. There's no telling what makes her cry.
Look at all those women, wearing deep blue saris, leaning this
way and that, in the ocean. Thousands, row on row. Are they moaning
or praying? Listen. Surely they're trying to tell her something.
the cathedral men are digging hard. She wonders what they're looking
for. She's doing the usual things, dusting and labelling. She's
been arranging small platters of ice, a bend in the river, snow
from the last blizzard. Also, she's been paying attention to wind,
which is merely a longing to touch. The men spend their time wisely,
memorizing how shovels glint in the sun. She studies the way they
dig. Soon they'll come to an end. They'll have a good-sized hole,
and then they'll stand back to look into it. She's waiting for
the black crow, the way it strikes sky, making a flinty sound.
There are pinkish-white pagodas on the chestnut tree. In each
pagoda is a sage, his arms folded in silk. She passes the tree,
listening. At first she doesn't hear anything. What is it you're
seeking? asks one. There are whispers, soft shufflings. They're
moving across the polished floors of the pagodas on slippered
feet. You have the power to kill, says another. She pauses, but
there is only wind, one veil of rain after another. Didn't you
ball of dung was impaled on a twig: the dung beetle had to solve
the problem. First it pushed, then it went underneath. Finally
it freed the dung from the twig and kept going. Sisyphus worked
as hard as this, knowing he could stop anytime he wanted. After
a while he began to love the rock. He loved the hill. He could
feel himself between them.
getting used to it. Each morning when he wakes, he sees fire on
the palms of his hands. The flames are small but distracting.
Whatever he touches starts on fire: the chair, the table, even
the mirror. Now he's teaching himself to pick up one thing at
a time, carefully. He knows it's a gift from the gods, but sometimes
he wishes they'd take it back. Soon he'll be able to put it inside
his ribs and take it out whenever he needs it.