Fraser Valley Poets Society

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Alvin G. Ens

Berry Good

Indelicately, with a fork,
I squish my strawberries into ice cream
until red oozes like a massacre on winter snow.
Now attack my prey,
savour for a moment the sweet tang of conquest,
lose my head and attack again and again.

My wife, genteel and refined,
having already reproved me
for sampling unwashed berries,
slices berries onto a small glacial peak,
then gently hoists each bleeding berry,
cushioned in white, like search and rescue
some wounded skier on the slope,
and soothes with wash of coffee.

My son, mechanically inclined,
hefts ice cream, berries, milk into blender,
popping berries all the while,
and whirring into creamy smoothness
asks, “Where’s the straws?”
I quip, “Every berry has its straw; they’re strawberries.”
He sucks succulent sustenance slowly
savouring sweetness until slurp spells stop.
But not until he runs his finger round the rim
to catch the last remnant.

My daughter, the nibbler, loves berries
tempting, yielding, indulging like stolen kisses,
and plans each winter’s date
with frozen memories of summer sweetness
to lay them cold upon the tongue to thaw
waiting, yielding, savouring sweetness.

In pantry trophy case we store,
jammed into jars for winter memories,
our summer conquests, carefully labelled
Strawberry 04, Strawberry & Rhubarb 04,
Rasp. Jelly 04, and more.
And await the next rich, ripe paradise
in the Garden of Eat ‘em.

Copyright © Alvin G. Ens. Used with permission

Cleansing Ritual

I start my rain dance
with mincing side-step
skirting the main event
where water cascades
raise a tentative hand
in supplication for warmth
two-step with resolution
fully, bodily, naked
into the torrent
with bowed head
receive the warm purification
from above
mingle water
with the loosening suds
of thoughts of yesterday
scrubbed free
and drained away
raise my face defiantly
to the elements
in Scottish highland fling
in anticipation and confidence
I stand in reverential awe
unwilling the ritual should end
but cleansed and renewed
in preternatural absolution
made civilized
ready to face the dirt
of yet another day

Copyright © Alvin G. Ens. Used with permission

To Progress

In the traditions of farming
on a one-horse operation
I catch my steed, lead to the barn
a simple bridle will control
Queen resists but I pinch her gum
and slide in the bit when she parts teeth
I ride, not walk
a tribute to an emerging age
slow and comfortable
bringing advancement into the agrarian
as second generation as my parents to theirs
as progressive as established pioneers
to own the first tractor in the village
basic as bareback riding
hanging on to the mane
I kick the belly into motion to a loping gallop
smoother than the bouncing pioneer trot
feet dangling a bit precariously
one side each of tradition and innovation
I turn my back on the farmyard
and sally forth in ever-widening circuit
always at the end of the day a return
Queen sensing release quickens pace with me
in the exhilaration of a headlong rush
to freedom within the sanctuary of home

I catch the wily two-year-old
with running start vault the back
and ride Prince, alluring regal protégé
still with the frugality of bareback
hanging on to the mane, facing the wind
a stallion in the firsts of manhood
high spirited, skittish, unpredictable
racing beyond the stable home
into a new age of electricity and education
so fast he takes my breath away
into the unknown beyond the manual labour
bursting into high school and scholarship
to profession and career
Prince, my daring, darling love
going forever faster, farther
as progressive as my parents’ first car
as luxurious as an Underwood typewriter
a new generation anglicising the ethnic
beyond the pasture riding into the urban

Copyright © Alvin G. Ens. Used with permission

I Am the Poem

By Alvin G. Ens

I am the poem
conceived in ecstasy
shaped in embryonic thought
birthed in burst of labour
coddled or ignored

I am the poem
an infinitesimal pebble
weighted fingered chosen
sheathed and slung
to slay the next Goliath

I am the poem
shaped by history shaping history
being understood I understand
graduating green and glowing
to please or perish

I am the poem
praised into local saint or sage
a speck in the universe
to be entered into history
as a footnote

Copyright © 2005 Alvin G. Ens.  Used with permission

Alvin G. Ens

•    Husband, father, grandfather
•    Poet, writer of short fiction and prose articles, family historian, editor
•    High school teacher of English, teacher with Corrections Canada, now retired
•    Churchman, gardener, golfer, curler
•    Saskatchewan native, married into Manitoba, long-time resident of BC
•    Has been published in magazines, anthologies and on the web. He currently contributes to the church in Abbotsford site (read a recent article).
•    Member of Poets Potpourri Society (Abbotsford), Fraser Valley Christian Writers (Abbotsford), Inscribe Writers (based in Alberta), Word Guild Canada, Canadian Poetry 
•    Has written six books:
¬    Musings on the Sermon (poetry on biblical themes – 2002)
¬    I Am the Poem (poetry – 2005)
¬    Village Roots (a family history – 2007)
¬    Rural Roots (poetry about his rural roots – 2007)
¬    A Kingdom Kite (an anthology of Christian prose and poetry – 2008)
¬    Abe and Susie (a family history – 2010)

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