by Terry Ann Carter



How like the cherry petal, falling

in spring, does a political prisoner


feel on his way to internment.

Past mountain views, the ghost


towns empty of spirit. What lack

of joy in each turning wheel, each


despairing sigh. What holds a man

together on his way to isolation


in a town full-grown to horror.

Does a man think I will not live


long. Or does he evade this peril

by remembering a childhood


misfortune, a car door slamming

on small clutched fingers, his scream


the size of the Salish Sea, and the jerking

of it, high then low, like the seabirds that


follow the ferry’s wake, pieces of his

bloodied hand falling on the veined


stones by the side of gravel. Does

a man travelling in a truck


to the interior think of food? Or sex?

Or scientific evidence of the ocean’s


depths? Does he remember his sweetheart’s

breasts? Or the tombstone for his father?


Does he begin to compose his death poem

counting syllables on the stumps of fingers


travelling mountain roads to the ghost towns

of camps in spring, 1942. How like a petal, falling.



From First I Fold the Mountain: A Love Letter to Books, Windsor, Ontario: Black Moss Press, 2022, pages 41–42. In the Japanese tradition, a death poem (usually haiku) is known as a jisei, knowingly written on the verge of death.