/harsher sentences

Original Text: 
Margaret Christakos, Other Words for Grace (Toronto: The Mercury Press, 1994): 18-20. PS 8555 H753 O84 Robarts Library
1Why parts of her seem missing (body, memory)
2but also
3colour shape fragance accent
5On the table now: what abhors it
6how our white supremacist eye defines value
7if it is good or black
8if there was value
9how she carried its markers
10outside & then in
11Questions hang in the middle like a car mirror
12ever present
13awaiting my glance
14framing me
15i realize i'm always in the centre
16in the middle of the car
17in the middle of the highway
18in the centre of the city
19my city (in the daytime)
20in the middle of a mobile day, the questions glance back
21with harsher sentences
22If she had been
23a black girl
24native girl
25asian girl
30this is a hardest question, one of the hard ones.
31would it?
32Whose deaths do we let go by
33not noticing who the we is
34not bothering to make official
35a fuss of
36her absence
37these terrible ellipses;
38how to grieve over the bodies of the dead girls
39with these questions
40knotted in our middle
41how to bring all of our bodies back into the present
42knowing without her to begin with
43most of our stories wouldn't even exist
44the dead girl instantiates the male detective hero
45the twin peaks of his epiphanies, his profanities
46his plot
47a grave plot
48twisted plot
49twisted mind
50the blond-haired blue-eyed boy next door
52what a plot twist, fingers
53pointing right back to centre
55When tricked into joining the obituaries
56the subversive woman finds herself
57challenged to resurrect all of the links
58between massacre
59& mass occurrence
60to plot twists in old logic
61insurrections of memory
62to let none of us go missing without a fuss
63without all of us remembering more
64hard to recall what gets lost in the memory of
65erased is always
67Each woman's skin colour shape breath accent
68lightly exuding
69what each differently loves to look at
70in the particular shop window
71each different face reflected back to her
72as good, as memorable
73that stopped her footfall amid syncopated rhythms
74what the rhythm means to her
75what each of us might want to be happening
76the space where each of us
77finds her own body
79via the mouth archaeology
80delivered to this moment


27] Allusion to blonde-haired Andrea Atkinson who, at six years old, was raped and murdered in Toronto in October 1990 by John Terceira, the caretaker of her building. He was convicted of the crime in February 1993. Back to Line
29] the Sun: Toronto tabloid newspaper, well known for its daily feature photo of an often bikini-clad Sunshine Girl. Back to Line
51] Paul Kenneth Bernardo (1964-), perpetrator of at least fifteen rapes of teenage girls in Scarborough, Ontario, 1987-90. Police released a composite portrait of the rapist May 26, 1990. Bernardo was convicted of two murders in September 1995 and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Copyright © Margaret Christakos and used by permission of the poet. Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained from her in writing.