My father underlines the words

he doesn’t understand. Dear father,

penultimate means next to last. Husband, as a verb,


is not unusual. To husband is to conserve.

Ajar is fancier than open. Masticate is stronger than eat.

Like this: Within, we eat our caribou. Without,

the bears masticate theirs.

I am reading his copy of Yellowknife, a travelogue

published in the year of our centennial.


Yellowknife is where my older brothers both were born

in the middle of the eighties, when men at the Wildcat twisted

to the beat of the only vinyl the needle hadn’t scratched


into oblivion. As the dogs barked and the spiders

prospered — if spiders can live

in climates so cold. Dear father, oblivion means nothingness,


and I was never there. I wasn’t a breath in the wind

or a glint in your eye or a howl from afar

overheard because Daniel left the green bay window


ajar. You know the north and I

the words. The songs, the dogs, the

spiders, and I the words.

Ben Ladouceur has been a featured reader for Ottawa VERSeFest, the Tree Reading Series and the In/Words Reading Series. His work has been featured in the anthology Pith and Wry: Canadian Poetry (Scrivener Press) and in chapbooks from various Ottawa small-press publishers, including above/ground press, Apt. 9 Press and AngelHousePress.