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like the hoarfrost

originally presented for Winter City Edmonton, and replayed on CBC's Sunday Magazine here near the end of the segment: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-57/clip/15812738


I was once a girl left in the cold

by a careless boy on valentines day

five years later I become a woman who fell in love with herself

when I heard the birdsong above Victoria's park

went looking for the magpies

and found only the still pond-water

I saw myself in the uncompromise when I was met with Saskatchewan's

northern caress: no woman is alone when she is solitary,

and no woman is solitary when we have a panting sky above us


which is to say that I want to be held

like the hoarfrost holds the trees over Jasper Ave

that I long for the daylight's gift like I long for a lover

to bring me warmth on even the loneliest of sunday noons.

under the bright rustle of ravine-dwellers

I learn to love winter the way I learn to love myself:

slowly, achingly, laboriously, and at risk of a damp heart


and as I saw the magpies gather onwards

through the sleet and the freeze

heard the burrow of sleepless mice

inside the roots of Strathcona trees

felt the wind try to kiss every part of me

desperate for a warm touch in the coldest of nights

I knew that the earth itself was convinced

only the ones who fail to count the snowflakes

like blessing as they fall

could ever feel betrayed at sundown


when the day comes for winter to hold me close

and my palms scrape the slick, or my bones snap on the fall

I hope it is a clean break:

that there is no curl of broken nail or fracture keeping us together

that if I stay out here in the cold, it is a choice

to overcome even the parts of me that are fearful


I hope my last cirrus of breath is a goodnight and not a goodbye

that the water in my lungs finds peace against the third eyelid of a rabbit

I hope it is a promise from one body of water to the next that

even if there is a flood of red from my skin to winter's canvas

I will be remembered in the ice, that when the spring

melts our run-in my warmth will flow

like icicles drip into the grass beneath the snowbanks

those mouths of hungry dirt

churned up at the edge of the sidewalk

that will grow the dandelions and the milk thistle

that will stand defiant of the winter's flight around the earth once more


I hope my ghost lands gently amongst the slope of a river valley

is inhaled by the dark sky at sunrise and let loose

as the teenagers come shivering home,

that the children hold me in their little fists, roll me up and stick

a carrot in my ear


young ones borne of the fox and hare,

we have more in common with reindeer than we do the sleeping bears,

so when the grey sky demands of us our whole and bleeding hearts

uses them as kindling to keep a season warm again,

let the snow fall on your tongue and melt

into a promise for one more chance

at capturing

starfall


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