LARRY HOPPERTON
Author Feature - April 2020

Lawrence Hopperton lives in the town of Stouffville, Ontario. He is a former editor of the University of Toronto Review and one of the founding editors of Nimbus Press. His poetry has been published internationally, most recently in Tamracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21’st Century, the fifth Lummox anthology, Sirsee, Sheila-na-gi. Smeuse and Pocket Change. He has published two chapbooks, Song of Orkney and Other Poems in 1983, and Ptolley Bay in 2013. 


In his non-poetry life, he has authored three college textbooks and, as the founding Director of the Center for Distributed Learning at Tyndale University and Seminary, many academic papers.

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FEATURED POETRY

TWENTY-FOUR LINE LOAF
Flour from shelf to table, 

powder the bowl measured

by eye. Watered and warmed: 

it is active. Sugar lightly now, 

salt and sourdough a week-ago’s 

ingredients. I never guess. 


Your palm-dust rolls. 

It presses. Cover 

with a towel. It rises.

You spend time with me – 

rises – you knead it down again –

rises, and the baking stone 


warms the rising to the kitchen, 

a pan of water at the bottom

for the crunchy crust, you say, 

because you like it that way.

Baking dishes I never scrub.

Mushroomed, brown over pan-rim,


It cools on the rack, soon done. 

Your arms around me and

our knife slices the loaf

steams the flavor of love

golden with butter. Tomorrow 

morning, toasted with honey.

MARTELLO TOWER

It sweated Princess Street to the lake

squatted on Wolfe Island

reflected off the Kingston limestone.

It idled the afternoon –

peeled clothes, burned shoulders, stalled

into evening blanketing tonight.


On dormitory steps every light

feels hot: headlights creep for a slow

breeze, round the corner, reflect

the haze on bushes, bare legs,

the Martello tower.

We become mysterious


responses, separated seeking 

our element in the lake,

drop our clothes behind the concession.

Our hot skins finely stripped

approach surrender and wade

into welcome between our pores


and water combining shapes, 

textures, temperatures in 

concurrent centered circles,

cools our bodies into a drifting

past the harbor lights, the breakwater

between islands to the St. Lawrence.

PTOLLEY BAY 

“…her eyes are far already.”


            Stephen Spender


Cottage shadows define south, the time of day.

There are deer tracks down the path in. You see them

past the garden you create between the rocks.

Your stone skips seven times. A daring chipmunk

with a bald spot demands another peanut.

You hold one out, tap the deck, and it takes it

slowly, tugging your thumb and finger. You

caress its belly.  It runs but comes back.


You swim the island and back – Olympic

pools, maybe three, deep. The bay is like that

one way, ninety seconds, hugging shoulders

“Did it! Didn’t I, Dad!” Your hair, arms, we

grin, something, paddle home

dipping Polaris, our glass lake lullaby.

GREENMAN

Trees with widow-makers shadow

the deck-top, the path to the bush. 

You weed beans, plant annuals, perennial 

paths in pots from the deck to the dock, 

keep the buildings up. Always something to do – 


change the water flow under the foundation, 

insulate for two more months. 

No one comes in February.

They don’t come at night either. 

Roads run. Deer eyes reflect 


and you might stop. Moose eyes don’t. 

They happen like record high 

Water. You moved the docks up

and there is no beach anymore.

My son helped drill anchor holes 


for low water, your space, 

this family place in treetops.

The earth will take you for forest 

walks after coffee, soil found in gullies

brought back to bury plumbing 


environmentally neutral, except 

the wood stove in winter.

Spring stars tend ice holes, 

a canoe for your love and leaves 

in your hair. You set bugs free.

AGNES


1. Perhaps I do


Misting and shining cobble 

tavern lights to sea, peat 

smoke, something local. Scapa whisky.  

You asked where I’m from. America? 

Africa? All too far away too foreign 


since you married the neighbor boy 

made children, made them sweaters.  

Now you stop by this pub each evening   

waiting for the boats to come back. 

Between the women laughing 


smoke and drinks we trading tales: 

mine a bit embellished and you

rolled the sea, rolled the sun  

across the table lashing 

trees you planted, a body 


identified by your sweater. 

Word came. The boats were close 

They would be home soon. 

You stood, said goodbye like tomorrow night. 

The bar emptied out with you,


a film running down the glass. 

But if I had climbed the harbor cliff, 

seen your arms locked around your man, 

happy the sea had given him back again,    

perhaps I might have a better story tonight. 

 

 

2. Lament


The sun is low wind high and cold.

Seas surge in strife with the sky.

My body in these days alone

drops to wretchedness.

 


Since my love was taken by the sea

long as a month is every day

long as a year is every month.

Hours lament. I am an old hag.

Before I lost my love to the sea

sweet was intimacy, sweet the days

my breasts full and firm, lips supple

and my thighs could caress a sailor.


It is not evil that I now wear

a veil of white and grey on my head.

It is evil that I never wore

a wedding veil for my love.


Hours with my love were times of colours:

every hue bedecked my head. My cheek

flushed soft to the touch of his hand,

fields waved golden sunshine to the sea.


Now fire provides me little warmth:

No arm cuddles my shoulder;

no lips welcome me to morning;

no warm breath on my cheek.


My strength has ebbed like the last tide

and I am idle in this harbour.

My cheek has yellowed, my arms are old

bony and thin, an old woman's arms.


Even sleep is no relief for me.

I dream motion to mountains, gushing

waves welling, storms careering and fierce

wind combing white the hair of the sea.


I see sailors awash on stormed decks

losing their grips, their breath in the night.

Their panic swells deeming all is lost

they stretch shipwrecked arms towards the coast.


The wind is high and cold. It pierces

me like a spear. The sea runs high

and the sun rides low in its short course.

My poor body totters, my hands shake.


I have been robbed by the siren sea.

Her song bedevilled my love to death.

I wail to the wind on the water

but these cries never disturb the deep.

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