Sandra Ridley is the author of four books of poetry: Fallout, Post-Apothecary, The Counting House, and Silvija (published by BookThug this fall). She has mentored poets through Salus Ottawa (Supportive Housing and Mental Health Services) and Artswell’s “Footprints to Recovery”, a partnership program for people living with mental illness. In 2015, she was a finalist for the KM Hunter Award for Mid-Career Writer.
Before running on nightshade & wormwood in a topiary maze.
Before hawthorn punctures her arm : poison tipped.
Before a peck of stones, she handpicks or pockets,
she is camphor-doused
by a fold of wool : wet & held tight to her eyes.
Before his screen & clips & the red light & darkening, his hands pressed
to his switchboard & mirror : apparatus of the in-out & charged.
Before her fluoroscopic diapositive &
the smell of two kinds of heat.
Nothing left hidden in her body.
Before & after, there is only this : four corners to a room
& the others pounding at the door.
For all the corruption in her body :
she is linen wrapped
& straight-jacked under his muslin tight sack
as salt stains her throat
& down leather strapped by collar bone.
Behind un-papered walls
she is held
& suspended – not heavy & dragging
or veiled by sulphur
light & swinging.
Fully encased in his plaster cast,
she is strung from above for a fortnight :
blood on her bitten lip,
a lick of rain
on a boarded window, her aberrant crack