Failed Seances for Rita Macneil
From Sideshow Concessions. Published by Invisible in 2015. Crawford’s poetry has been published in the Literary Review of Canada, Antigonish Review, PRISM International and Best Canadian Poetry (2015). Sideshow Concessions won the 2015 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. Crawford lives in Vancouver.
Rita, you requested that your ashes be held in a teapot—two if necessary, you said. Low days, I browse plus-size caskets (They are all pink or blue)
But you took death with milk and sugar, long steep.
Rita, we are both members of the fat neo-scottish diaspora.
Don’t tell me it doesn’t exist, sweet darlin’, until you are the only fat transsexual at a Rankin Family concert in Montreal.
Until you feel more at home than you have all year when
Raylene (1960–2012) thumbs-ups your half-ton dance moves in the front row during that last last encore.
Fare thee well, love.
Will we never meet again no more?
In Grade Two, I sang with your coalmining choir,
The Men of the Deep. There is something terrifying about a hundred prepubescent squirts squeaking out the high falsetto tones of “We Rise Again” over the miners’ sea of capsized bass tones. The highest note
of the song comes at the word “child” and we screamed it. We didn’t yet have the sadness that keeps you from even trying those high notes that take you from ours to other worlds and back again.
A miner comes forward in concerts for a mustachioed solo.
He was on the CBC the day you died, having an open cry.
They all wear helmets onstage.
They are all Henny Penny, ever hardhat-ready for another falling sky.
Rita, did I ever tell you my great uncle Miley died in the mines?