Arleen Paré Literature Poetry

I Steel Myself

Arleen Paré


if anyone asks tell them I’m sane as stainless steel
I heat the pot before I make the tea

when the Jehovah’s Witnesses knock I stand
stock-still behind the drapes

I harden myself against the swords of winter rain
against December’s bucket of black night

before they hatch I do not count my chickens
I boil eggs in a small tin pot

I sleep in the attic     like Dorothy I’ll be first to go
Oz-bound when winds whip forty knots

I’ll be the Tin Man seeking
my own heart

everyone in some small sanctuary of self is nuts
says Leo Rosten    but who knows Leo Rosten?

I don’t wail    much     or rail against the price of fuel
or the cost of privacy or peace

tell them I was born this way a     tarnished spoon
between my seed-pearl baby teeth

I’m sane as any alloy     petrified as ancient wood
if they ask tell them I’m sound as an iron skillet

anything that rings hard against the knocks
holds up under heat


Arleen Paré

Photo Greg Ehlers

Arleen Paré’s first book, Paper Trail, won the Victoria Butler Book Prize and was shortlisted for BC Books Dorothy Livesay Prize in Poetry. She has two other books, Leaving Now (Caitlin Press, 2012), a novel, and most recently, Lake of Two Mountains (Brick Books, 2014), a collection of linked poetry, which won the 2014 Governor General’s Award. Her fourth book, He Leaves His Face in the Funeral Car, a collection of poetry, is forthcoming from Caitlin Press Fall 2015. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies in Canada. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Victoria.