I ought to start with someone else's gain,
step outside myself, put on the red
and distant visor, be the other queen.
Remember what is still to come. Forget.
An ocean, say, with pebbles full of eyes –
or what were once the outer skins of sight –
how beautiful they are, intact and white
against the deadened grey, intense cerise.
Or maybe sand instead; the other side
of memory. A hundred million minds
A sparrow hops across snow.
A dog barks.
The wishbone though.
Intact and delicate
like a canoe slicing
through the nothingness
that should have been
a heartbeat. Strength
so often gets overlooked
in the pink hour of
dried blood. And so we miss
the open mouth of determination,
the way a foot is lifted not
towards or away from
Ayesha Chatterjee is the author of two poetry collections, The Clarity of Distance, and Bottles and Bones. Her work has appeared in journals across the world and been translated into French and Slovene. Chatterjee is past president of the League of Canadian Poets and chair of the League’s Feminist Caucus. She is poetry advisor for Exile magazine.
There is one road in and out –
mountain to sea and back again.
We take it while we still can,
trail the steady line of traffic
climbing towards a choked sky.
Streams only travel in one direction
or dry up in heatwaves such as this.
The temperatures are still rising.
Last night, as the children slept,
we watched light streak across the sky
illuminating our shack on the hill –
the back steps built close
to jagged shrubs and grass.
This morning we packed everything
and left, shoved pink flip-flops
and beach-balls into the boot,
headed north. We saw flames
above the trees. By nightfall
that road was blistered, nothing
but a scorched leaf-littered underpass,
a net for fiery embers and sparks.
Burning strips of eucalypt bark
leapt from one side of the black lake
to the other. We watch the news,
recognise place names, on digital maps,
not meant for tourists. We walked
those beaches where huge groups
gather, waiting for the ferocious fires
to burn themselves out, return again
to ash-dusted patches of land.
When life comes down to a headspace of air
beneath a jetty – the atmosphere toxic –
and above swirling tornadoes of fire,
the house burning down to the ground,
trees glowing scarlet in the haze, hissing,
spitting out sparks, and a fireball sun
beaming yellow, eucalypts exploding
under a Mercurian orange-streaked sky –
you cling to wood, cling to your grandchildren,
let the youngest lock fingers around your neck,
her blonde curls bobbing on the cold surface,
her eyes wide, lips a thin, pale line – wonder
where their mother is, if she’s praying, check
for five heads above water. Make your case.
Stephanie Conn is a poet and current PhD Researcher from Northern Ireland. Her first collection The Woman on the Other Side (Doire Press, 2016) was shortlisted for the Shine/Strong Award for Best First Collection. Her pamphlet Copeland’s Daughter (Smith/Doorstep, 2016) won the Poetry Business Poetry Competition. Her most recent collection Island was published by Doire Press in 2018. Stephanie is a multi-award winning poet, including the inaugural Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing. She is the recipient of a range of Arts Council awards and has read her work locally, nationally and internationally. Find out more at https://stephanieconn.org/. Follow @StephanieConn2
IF TINY CRYSTALS FORM CLOSE TO THE EARTH’S SURFACE THEY FORM DIAMOND DUST
My antler heart grows hooves.
I follow the lead from the pack.
Find shelter in a drunken forest--
what species isn’t at risk.
Insulating properties of snow
keep me warm--
trapped air between each flake.
With body heat and earth-transfer heat
my home becomes a snowbank.
It’s not the hare’s scream
it’s the antecedent silence.
we fill ourselves up
with slow-banked health
push off the not needed
with the growth behind it
we tick silent rings
inside our own xylem clocks
each wound is sealed
with home-spun adhesive
we synthesize sunshine to a flameless fire
we shed to survive to burn spring green
All parts have a line
with never end.
a shatter zone.
Cries by a gate can’t
slip out, they hover.
Hold blue in your hands.
Go on, cup sky. This isn’t illusion.
The sound of absence is your boat
coming in. The work is in the meadow.
It’s hard to put past in a safe place.
Some eyes see, if not birds.
“If Tiny Crystals Form Close to The Earth’s Surface They Form Diamond Dust” first published in the UK literary journal Stag Hill Literary Journal
“The Trees” first published in the LCP anthology: Heartwood: a League of Canadian Poets Anthology
“Intersections” published in the online UK journal/website Burning House Press
Catherine Graham is an award-winning Toronto-based writer. Her sixth poetry collection, The Celery Forest, was named a CBC Best Book of the Year, appears on the CBC Books Ultimate Canadian Poetry List and was a finalist for the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry. Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insect was a finalist for the Raymond Souster Poetry Award and the CAA Poetry Award. Her debut novel Quarry won an Independent Publisher Book Awards gold medal for fiction, “The Very Best!” Book Awards for Best Fiction and was a finalist for the Sarton Women’s Book Award for Contemporary Fiction and the Fred Kerner Book Award. She teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto where she won an Excellence in Teaching Award and is a previous winner of the Toronto International Festival of Authors’ Poetry NOW competition. Æther: an out-of-body lyric will appear in 2020 with Wolsak and Wynn. Visit her at www.catherinegraham.com Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @catgrahampoet
© Copyright 2023 | Watch Your Head
Sign up for our Newsletter
Buy our print anthology Watch Your Head: Writers & Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis (Coach House Books, 2020).