Terese Mason Pierre, a U of T student currently pursuing a Specialist in Bioethics, has sent us two stunning poems for us to share with you all. The first piece “Roots” reads almost like a legend, a powerful piece that draws on familial and religious imagery to prompt discussion about race and class tensions. Her use of enjambment and repetition has a mirroring effect between the two stanzas, creating a cyclical movement in the poem. Her second piece “Freefall” plays with nature metaphors and personification that makes this poem less direct than the previous, but is nonetheless just as moving for this.
Mason Pierre also writes short stories, 3 of which have been published, and has also completed an electronic novel entitled Shadow Twins. Below you can read the poems, followed by her artist statement for each piece.
The need to please,
Mother and Father brought with them the seeds from the Old World,
And, like the water hyacinth, they quickly blossomed, spread,
Trailed out of our mouths and eyes;
A kowtow: beautiful and ugly.
Now that I am grown, I feel it’s a stain on my ivory tower:
The one I built from the ashes of my racial and class discrimination.
Everywhere I turn, arsonists loom.
And when I’m backed into a corner,
I feel the roots
Pricking at my fingers;
The words, “I’m sorry,” trying to pry my lips open from the inside
And attempt to clean up what I haven’t sullied,
Despite all my achievements.
Don’t worry about it, says Mama, the coward.
Ignore it, says Daddy, the great architect.
Take it and use it, says my brother.
Take from it what you want and discard the rest,
Like the Bible.
The need to rise,
“I wrote this poem during a writing exercise; I was instructed to create a piece with the words, “Bible,” “arsonist” and “stain.” Despite the informal, seemingly detached origin, I feel this poem can be classified as a diasporic piece, since it speaks to so many Canadian experiences, especially those of immigration and assimilation.”
The sun came out from behind the clouds after checking
To see if it was safe.
The storm below was subsiding:
The lovers parted—
With battered wills and raw throats.
The wind galloped and screamed,
Scaring the trees.
It made her hair whip like a flag.
It carried his words of scorn and agony across waves of green grass;
Echoes of unexpressed desire pinging off the rocks
And draining into the sea.
The sun rose, confident now,
And opened its golden wings to brush in the late afternoon.
They went home,
Cried into pillows,
Dissolved into dreams of invisibility
And bright blue supernovas.
Outside, the leaves held hands and danced.
“I wrote this poem during a writing exercise with the poet laureate, George Elliot Clarke, during the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Writing Conference. The exercise was called ‘freefall,’ so it’s what I titled the poem, which is a result of my experimentation of personification and imagery in nature. Unlike, “Roots,” I was actively aware of writing the poem; I set out to write a poem.”