Colleen’s poems often have stories in them, and she liked to both tell the story and weave in connections to the wider world. That’s why I love her poem “The Glass Cupboard”; it tells not only the story of how the lights from the Pat Bay Highway raced across our kitchen wall and lit up the glass cupboard, but also the story of what was yet to be — our neighbour’s house demolished to widen the highway — and the story of what we could not know — of the man from Alberta who built the house with the glass cupboard and loved, the bush, the hills.
The Glass Cupboard
Lights from the Highway sparser, softer now
and the Gorst lights gone and their house gone
away, just lost rib to new life in dark seas,
just dark seven sleepers gone seasabout the foot of our hill,
just the foot of the hill and a great cave opening up.
Lights from the glass cupboard !spark! the house dark;
And it’s up to the glass cupboard now! It looms
at James’ headheight, three paces from the kitchen sink,
one from table, length approximately my armspan, crafted
by an Albertan who loved the bush, the hills.
The Bay Highway kindles to blue Italian grotto glasses;
and green glasses, safe-and-wide as Sweden; and cheap
little ruby liqueurs sing; and cocktail Libbys supermart
violent and fresh from fists that swung axes, pounded down a territory
and rolled Malcolm Lowry into the soundmad surf dazzling no warning…
By an Albertan who loved the bush, the hills,
who made this cupboard ark that tends the tides
of dream. They light, they guard the house,
glow like an icon of Mike Todd, thirty-odd glasses,
touched off by random headlights moving toward the Bay.
Colleen Thibaudeau, 1969
This poem appears in two of Colleen’s collections – The Martha Landscapes (1984) and The Artemesia Book: Poems Selected and New (1991), both published by Brick Books. It is used with permission from Colleen’s family. To read more about Colleen Thibaudeau, please visit this website.
Susan Reaney is a writing tutor by day and poetry blogger by night; she lives in Vancouver, BC.