Marvyne Jenoff | Toronto, ON | LCP member for years

The Orphan and the Stranger

I’m an orphan, sir,
my mother’s mute;
see these paper birds I make
(or fans or valentines),
tell me they sing, sir,
tell me I sing

I’m an orphan, sir;
these paper birds with hands I fold
with heels I crush their wings
their eyes
(my mother so serene):
scold me, sir, or weep,
forbid me

Don’t look! I’m making something
white and small
and secret as a paper soul can be:
her flesh is racked and darkening,
help me see

High as the firmament she flies
and hides the sun:
I’m folding perfect birds again
each smaller than the last, each one,
and smaller, smaller, smaller I,
find the orphan quickly,
keep my cry

* * *

From: The Orphan and the Stranger. Wolsak and Wynn Publishers, 1985.

* * *
Marvyne Jenoff was born and educated in Winnipeg and has lived in Toronto for most of her adult life. Her poetry and fables have been published in Canadian literary journals since 1962. Her books have been published from 1972 to 2010. She is currently writing semi-nonsense poetry based on sound.

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