Hail Britannia’s noblest daughter,
Who is surrounded by the water
Of many a lake and broad sea,
Land of beaver and of maple tree.
Her lofty brow is wreathed with smiles,
For from the far Atlantic isles
In pomp have come their delegates,
All seeking to unite their fates.
With Canada great northern queen,
And now throughout the land is seen,
High festival and stately dance,
Triumphant nuptials to advance.
And soon shall Red River valley
And distant Vancouver rally,
To form this Empire gigantic
From Pacific to Atlantic.
in memory of Reetika Vazirani (1962-2003) and Rachel Wetzsteon (1967-2009)
Summer of ‘96, I went there for
booze and poetry and rest.
I danced a little dance;
I talked a little shop.
I forgot a recent ghost.
“Invitation to a Ghost”
was my favorite poem in Tennessee.
And Justice taught my workshop.
(God love him, he called me decadent for
ending a line with an anapest.) At the dance
party with Allison and the rest
of the poets from Rebel’s Rest,
ambition was the ghost
unseen, but always in attendance.
And I misplaced my faith in Tennessee,
upon a hill: I gave an undergrad what-for
after priming him with lines of Bishop.
Gossip is another word for talking shop.
But Rachel, sharper than the rest,
winner of things I hoped for,
was above all that, like a charming host.
She spoke of posterity in Tennessee.
And every day felt like a dance
preparing us for a bigger dance.
In the bookstore, I pretended to shop
with Reetika, Rachel’s roommate in Tennessee,
wicked-funny and stunning and rest-
less. We flirted like we stood a ghost
of a chance. I was twenty-four.
I wonder now what it’s all been for:
that summer; the words; the awful dance
that followed. So many ghosts.
Let the muses close the horror shop.
Let Rachel and Reetika rest.
—Years ago, there was Tennessee.