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years later he sat alone in the orangerie

now with oval rooms shaped like infinity

enveloped by long concave bands

floor to ceiling paintings of Giverny

water lilies drifted throughout the day

thick shades of rose  cream  butter

on Monet’s translucent ponds


                 from in the orangerie by Catherine Heighway 







auntie’s marmalade

a language we can all understand

Vincent drops by

two ways to look at lotus shoes

  1. lotus shoes at the Royal Ontario Museum
  2. first pair of shoes

Somewhere in France  June 10, 1915

Pandemic Window Visit – Christmas Eve

in the orangerie

pilgrim’s journey preserved

everything moves in a circle





1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Catherine Heighway


Catherine Heighway is a retired social worker and yoga teacher who lives in London, Ontario, Canada. She has been writing poetry for a number of years. Catherine has had her writing published in newspapers, journals and newsletters. In 2019, she co-authored a yoga book – Yoga Through the Seasons. She also enjoys helping people create their memoirs. Catherine would like to acknowledge the support of Jim Bennett and the Poetry Kit on-line writing community, especially Francesca Hunt, as well as her family and other friends.





auntie’s marmalade


came in a squat glass jar

dark orange threaded with

bitter shredded peel

stored sunshine of Seville 

still warm from the pot

offered from grey gloves

while snow blew in

around her feet

at the open door

as my father lay dying

in the next room



a language we can all understand


two people lean close to each other

complain in hushed voices

how much longer will we have to wait

while an interpreter helps a group

with the necessary forms

si si gracias - soft curved s

they all chuckle gently when she asks

the elderly gentleman if he is pregnant


a tall bearded man and a woman in hijab

enter with a curly haired little girl

and a baby car seat covered

in a flannelette blanket 

the man asks a veiled woman beside me

about the proper procedure

with low staccato questions

and small hand gestures


she responds with clipped confidence

shukran he says -  coarse stark k

someone points to the baby seat

asks the girl if that is her sister

the man smiles   shakes his head 

no   brother - deep guttural h

the little girl holds a finger

to her lips – ssshhh




Vincent drops by


a daub of cadmium yellow

from the wheatfields of Arles

might have become a sunflower

his self-portrait straw hat 

part of the starry night


chose instead to land

on the finch feeder

life seems almost enchanted

after all




two ways to look at lotus shoes



lotus shoes at the Royal Ontario Museum


tiny embroidery stitches form

chrysanthemums  butterflies  birds


cone shaped to resemble a lotus bud

in shades of ruby   lapis   topaz


the pair would fit in my palm

displayed on pedestals


behind museum glass

like jewelry in a shop window


their delicacy belies the agony

of the woman who wore them


who as a five-year-old girl

had her toes broken  


bound flat against the sole

arches crushed   feet bent double


wrapped in a silk strip tightened daily

for two years until the process was complete


offered in the marriage market

her foot size its own form of currency


the three-inch golden lotus most valued

erotic to her husband in the unwrapping



first pair of shoes


lotus shoes fit in the palm

like your first pair of shoes

I keep in a memory box


sweltering morning

in Changzhou

jet lagged   bleary 


smell of hot pavement

congee     disinfectant

strikingly quiet


white clad nannies

bring the babies in

one at a time


your feet squeeze into

these crimson and

cobalt brocade shoes


your orphanage name

written on adhesive

tape stuck to the soles


later I unwrap you

take off your shoes

count your toes


lined up like kernels

of corn on a cob

I kiss them again and again




Somewhere in France   June 10, 1915


Sister, this is heaven

                our tents are beautiful


their grey spirits

                stopped here overnight


                                the most awful wounds


too much smoking

goodness knows


the stories they tell

                                                we hear plenty


a bugle sounds

                can’t stay long


                                                I could go on



a found poem from a letter written by Nursing Sister S. M. Hoerner. Sophie Hoerner was born in Montréal on August 21, 1877, and trained at McGill University. Throughout WWI, Sophie served with Canadian General Hospitals and Casualty Clearing Stations in Northern France as a Nursing Sister and later as Matron. From a collection of letters within the Sophie Hoerner fonds at Library and Archives Canada. https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/canada-nursing-sisters/Pages/sophie-hoerner.aspx



Pandemic Window Visit - Christmas Eve


sisters through 90 Christmases

now separated by a pane of glass

my mother has her wheelchair

snug up to the desk to see out

my aunt bundled in her winter coat

with fur rimmed hood looks in as

she holds a pink umbrella that buckles

against the pelting rain

they chat together on cellphones

blow kisses to each other

my aunt brings her fingertips to the window

but my mother cannot reach that far



in the orangerie


after Les Nymphéas - The Water Lilies, by Claude Monet 1915 – 1926

Musée de l'Orangerie,  Paris


he rested on a cot in a high-ceilinged room

built to shelter orange trees of the Tuileries Palace

a view of the Seine from the south facing window

he never stopped shaking   vision blurred

weighted with fatigue he could not stand on his own 

with closed eyes he tried to imagine

the fragrance of orange blossoms but could not

escape the iron smell of blood   the sucking mud

at night the nurses would hold him down

as he thrashed   howled   images of

friends blown apart   screams of dying horses 

the terrible boom of guns reverberated

in the bones of his skull and down his spine

as the battle of Marne thundered thirty miles away



years later he sat alone in the orangerie

now with oval rooms shaped like infinity

enveloped by long concave bands

floor to ceiling paintings of Giverny

water lilies drifted throughout the day

thick shades of rose  cream  butter

on Monet’s translucent ponds

cobalt   emerald  ultramarine

with no banks   no horizon

reflected sky  clouds  willow branches

washed with light coming in through the roof

as the sun tracked across the sky

followed the Seine’s flow through Paris

his soft breathing the only sound


pilgrim’s journey preserved


after Mary Pratt, Jelly Shelf, 1999


I’ve sweated and wept on yoga mats

twisted my body into peculiar shapes

learned Sanskrit chants on a harmonium


sat cross-legged in draughty meditation halls

listened for the sound of one hand clapping

for the tree that falls in the forest


trekked up thousands of stone steps

to see sunrise on the snowy slopes of Annapurna

trailed my fingertips in the Ganges


sought the light that gleams through 

these simple jars of jelly on a shelf

refracted topaz   ruby   amber


the result of one woman’s labour

that wait to be cracked open

sweetness savored on the end of a spoon





everything moves in a circle


“And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.”

from Little Gidding by  T. S. Eliot


nuns  monks  novices in saffron and burgundy robes

are joined by tourists and Nepalese pilgrims

to circumnavigate Boudhanath Stupa

everything moves in a circle as extended right hands

touch smooth carved letters   push the prayer wheels

that rattle on steel poles tucked into walls


air dense with cardamom  incense   woodsmoke

everything moves in a circle as prayer wheels spin

clockwise to mimic the movement of sun across sky

purify negative karma with repetition of the mantra 

everything moves in a circle as the wheel of dharma turns 

I ease into the flow   offer my walk to my father’s memory


dead now for three years  not a religious man

but he loved to travel  would have appreciated the gesture

everything moves a circle   his plaid work shirt

hangs in my closet   smell of pine from his workshop lingers

my walk ends   everything moves in a circle   

I return to the place I started 




3  - Publishing History

auntie’s marmalade – Published by Poetry Kit - On Course - Summer School Special 2020

Vincent drops by – Published by Poetry Kit – Lunch 004 – December 2021

Somewhere in France  June 10, 1915 – Published by Poetry Kit – On Course Vol.2 – Summer School Special 2022



4 - Afterword

Email Poetry Kit - info@poetrykit.org    - if you would like to tell us what you think. 

We are looking for other poets to feature in this series, and are open to submissions.  Please send one poem and a short bio to - info@poetrykit.org