Order Winterkill

The Buried

In a shallow grave of sand,
done up to the nines
in a huge flowery chiffon dress
stretched out like a sail
on a beach in the Hebrides,
pecked to pieces by birds.
Tilda Swinton

The breeze soothes the summer’s
burning as it lifts off
the lake but the hot
sand holds the white heat
so we burrow our toes to find
the cooling. Bury me
in a shallow grave of sand.

I lie back and you shovel
beach over my pale
body. I let the itch of it
enter me. It’s as if a thousand
insects have taken free reign
and clothed me in their stings. I am
dressed up to the nines

now, a level
away from all that I once knew.
A head. But when I close
my eyes I become
the buried.
A cloud passes over
in a huge flowery chiffon dress

and the sand is the smell
of my new skin. The grainy
case of my lungs pumps
through homes of crabs.
I am the sound
of the underneath
stretched out like a sail

in a photograph. I am pure
verb going nowhere.
Even the wind
can’t move
me. The sand bars my body
from the water’s rise
on a beach in the Hebrides

where time is carved back,
land-locked to the hours
of sand that has
no hours, only bones.
I’m not afraid
of you leaving; I’m only afraid of being
pecked to pieces by birds.


Reviews & Praise

“Catherine Graham’s new collection Winterkill completes the trilogy that includes her critically acclaimed previous books Pupa (2003) and The Red Element (2008). Her poems always navigate the difficult paths between grief and memory, between intimacy and strangeness, with a disarming, surefooted grace. These are her most powerful, most affirming works to date.”
  — Paul Vermeersch, poetry editor for Insomniac Press

“From unicorns to frogs and turtles to moths, Graham utilizes images from fantasy and nature, working these poems to mine a quarry of loss: “We look for the dead in the living.” And Graham writes that loss into startling poems.”
  — The Telegraph-Journal

“…Graham invests the colours red and green with layers of meaning to the point that it verges on self-induced synesthesia. But the repetition of this and other motifs (wings, water) is incantatory — and effective.”
Winnipeg Free Press

… the gifts they offer are expansive and reward close attention.that’s the beauty of this and so many other poems in Winterkill: you’re given lots of space to fill in the blanks on your own…Winterkill is a warm, generous and welcoming collection of poems.”
— Mark Sampson, Free Range Reading

“Like the painting on the cover of her newest book of poetry, Winterkill, Catherine Graham’s poems are at once delicate and terrifying. In “Turtles,” for instance, she renders the brutal nature of children so beautifully in just two lines: “I let them stew in their piss./I wanted something alive.” My favourite poetry is the narrative kind, and Catherine tells such incredibly layered stories with so few words that I’m constantly blinking in amazement.”
— Jessica Westhead, The New Quarterly, Who’s Reading What

“As the last of Graham’s Quarry Trilogy, Winterkill will surely leave on the reader’s fingertips a residue of sleek creek mud, of purifying snowdrifts, and the bittersweet cadence of self and loss.”
  — The Toronto Quarterly

Another highly accessible collection of poetry from one of Toronto’s brightest poetry minds.”
Open Book: Toronto

“Desire, menace and loss thrum through this collection of deceptively restrained, brief poems that, in the main, mourn the early deaths of the poet’s parents. Imagery of mysterious creatures (a misunderstood troll, a unicorn wearied by expectations, the trickster rabbit of a breakfast cereal), the natural world of vivid colours and decay, and a dream-like abandoned quarry indirectly expresses both the poignancy of grief and a wild, just-below-the-surface longing… these are works of supple strength that have emerged from the storm to linger in the mind.”
  — Advent Book Blog, Kateri Lanthier