from If, When (Gaspereau Press, 2021)
Let’s call this paint chip
4 PM green. Lichen, liverwort.
Moss burgeoning into topo folds
enters ankles, backs of knees, hip
creaks. Call this forest bathing,
a phytochemical car wash:
chamoised by cedar boughs,
scrubbed clean by bottlebrush.
This sprung needle floor
the closest to dance hall,
to church, I’ve found.
High in the canopy, kinglets
ring their tinny bells.
from Pivot Point (Gaspereau Press, 2019)
Crossing Kibbee Lake, a weight lifts off.
Flanked by fluorescent grasses, a border of thin conifers, we paddle our canoes towards round and ragged hillsides in the distance. For nine days, out of range. No emails to catch up on, no events to plan or volunteers to manage. No longer defined by my day job as a park naturalist. Free to focus on my own connection with wild places. To ask questions. To listen.
The wind lifts a corner of the lake and quilts the glassy cumulus. The choreographer Margie Gillis spoke of dark places inside us and advised to dance through them. Don’t get stuck there; just keep dancing. Let the wind carry away a grain of sand each time.
With each stroke, notice tight shoulders and hips—all the emotions stockpiled for a later date. Let the blade dip into the ripples. Let go one grain, one stroke at a time.
“Aubade,” a poem from my third poetry collection If, When (Gaspereau Press, 2021) has been published by The Fourth River
from Hastings-Sunrise (Nightwood Editions, 2015)
Doesn’t take much to reclaim a corner
from Slurpee cups and cigarette butts.
A shortcut transformed into a mini-park
with a bench, a few flowering shrubs,
scraggly garden of cast-off
hostas, divided irises,
even the parts of myself
I cover up or reject.
Quick to anger, despair.
A friend’s letter reminds
It is your darkness that gives
you your shine.
Ten years on Vancouver Island.
I couldn’t bear one more Garry Oak cut
down for a Costco, one more mountainside
bulldozed into naked cul-de-sacs.
I returned to a city already ruined
and found people building
raised beds on boulevards, growing
roots, pushing back.
Penned on scrap cardboard,
Please don’t steal the plants.
from Night Gears (Wolsak and Wynn, 2010)
A southwesterly sends tumbleweeds
across the Cypress Hills. Dried
grass combed to a high sheen, rippled
and silver as shoals of darting minnows.
Tack into the wind, bear the push
against shoulders and legs,
thoughts red-winged blackbirds–
when approached, they fly off,
only to resettle farther on.
Look for deer all morning
and find none. Everywhere mud.
The smell of earth waking up–
wet newspaper and salt,
a girl’s first blood.
A jack rabbit startles
into cover. Two hours
of dodging gopher holes and garters and–
look up. Clouds skate past
like water striders. The mind
hollow, wind scoured.