Writing the Same Poem Over & Over

This corrugated plot, bent in on itself,

each page ending cool-bodied or electric

or whatever word I can find for briefly

okay. Of course we’ve been there already.

This lifetime of choosing the thing,

learning the road by laying it exactly

where it was. Like potato chips or returning

to the breath: again, again. They say

the brain is plastic, only they use better words—

longer, less brittle. I wish I was longer & less

brittle, my attention for sitting with words, 

I mean, my brain. If I cannot spell it out

in candy wrappers, the place I want

to belong, here is the driveway in, flattened

daily by returning. Here, the still water

I practice being held by, again,

again, until I carry it like a single apple

blossom, sheltered from the wind.

Somewhere in me could be a whole tree

of blossoms, opening to their chances

& all I have to do is find the road


Note:  From the series “The Garbage Poems.” All words (except title) transcribed from garbage found in Punch Bowl Pond near St. John’s, NL.

Headshot of Anna, a white woman with shoulder-length brown and grey hair. She is wearing a cardigan and a dress, has reading glasses on her head, and is standing outdoors on a lawn in front of a wooden wall.

Anna Swanson is a queer writer and librarian living in St. John’s, NL/Ktaqmkuk. Her writing is interested in themes of chronic illness, concussion, embodiment, queerness, and survival joy. Her first book of poetry, The Nights Also, won the Gerald Lampert Award and a Lambda Literary Award. Her writing appears in various journals and anthologies including Best Canadian Poetry in English. She works with Riddle Fence as a poetry editor, and loves wild swimming in all seasons. This poem is from a series called “The Garbage Poems,” in which poems are built from text on garbage found at various local swimming holes. For more about the project: www.garbagepoems.com.