Once: what a word, a measure of time
so lost, so final. A start with the finish
inside itself. No second chances, or next, or then…
just once. How I saw you. A weekend. A river.
Sitting there, cradling a cup of coffee you never
finished drinking once you saw me.
How once you skipped a stone from the banks of the Don.
How many times has that stone felt the river
carry it, wash it? Lucky stone: probably more than once.
How many times will it think of your hand,
the grace of your action? Not once, I’m sure.
To never know mourning, not once,
never drowning. Death is a river you’re thrown in
but once. And I know where the stone is,
and where it lies heavy. But it’s you I want to see.
(provided for the Arc Award of Awesomeness in May 2023)Kevin Irie was a finalist for The Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award and The Toronto Book Award for Viewing Tom Thomson, A Minority Report (Frontenac, House, 2012). He has been nominated for the Relit Award, been twice longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize, was a finalist in Arc’s Poem of the Year and was part of Poem in Your Pocket Day 2020 by The League of Canadian Poets. His latest book is The Tantramar Re-Vision (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2021). He lives in Toronto.