There’s a canary in the coal mine of our love. 

I sent him there. I sent several, in fact. The first time
you failed to pick up the phone in time and allay
my fears with your voice, I sent a canary
to make sure you weren’t screwing around in the next room
behind my back
right under my nose. We act as if proximity
makes these things less likely
but the truth is the truth
and the truth never changes. The truth is
most things happen right under our noses,
because it’s there we’re least likely to suspect
we’ve made a mistake. Some people leave it up to God.
I send canaries into the coal mine to find out
and watch for smoke signals against the sky. 

There’s a canary that follows you in the dark
from your office to our front door. There’s a canary
asleep on the floor of your car. If I could, I’d send a canary
into your soul. If I could make certain, I would. If I
could test your love in any other way, I would. But
this way it will stay: canaries in cages at the end
of fraying ropes, burning, burning,
burning away. 

When I go up to the attic and find a dead canary
in a box, I confront you. You have something to say,
you always do. You ask me to believe you. But
how can I, with all these canaries whistling in my ears?

There’s a canary in the coal mine of our love,
my love. He’s there to stay. 
There’s a canary in the coal mine of our love,
my love. Don’t expect him to go away.
There’s a canary in the coal mine of our love,
my love. 

a canary by a plant

Poet’s Notes

I hope you enjoyed this poem. You can find all my other poetry in The Poetry Deck archives.

If you’re looking for another love poem (a bit of a playful one with a double meaning), try my poem “Blue Light.” 

Thank you for reading! 

a canary upside down

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