Wednesday, December 31, 2008


The lights, each one a star
her star
follow her jagged path down the street
the music thrumming in her mind
Be aggressive, be aggressive
the lights bouncing along
with the rhythm

they know, the lights,
the know her fix--
the endorphin rush which gives her that moment
of immortality
as she breaks
the sound barrier
the barrier of the curb
at the edge of the road, the dry place
at the fringes of the puddles

the immortality of
an iPod, a pair of springy shoes
and a neon jacket

Rachel Westfall
December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Unexpected visitors

I looked out the window to check on the three chickadees that have been frequenting my backyard, and was delighted to find six grosbeaks at the feeder! They were so pretty and plump, and they seemed quite happy to preen and pose for my camera.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ode to a skanky mutt

Yard dog, yard dog
Of what do you dream?
Your chain clank-clanking
over blankets, soiled and thin

Your voice worn hollow
from bark-bark-barking
warning anyone away
who comes within fifty feet
of your precious 16 feet square
of dirt, worn down
to the dead stubs of grass
that once grew there

Yard dog, yard dog
for what do you long?
Your pads are crack-cracked,
and your fur is so rank
we can’t bring you in the house

you’re too big, anyway

If we let you off your chain
you’d knock down the kids,
horrify them
with your skanky breath
and paste their faces
with unwanted kisses

Yard dog, yard dog
what is it you want?
Shut up already,
we need some peace and quiet
around here

Rachel Westfall
December 29, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

silence part II

There is a story to go with that picture. Of course there is; every picture has a story. But I didn't want to break in on the silence; the sound of my voice might bring the soft clumps of snow down off the branches of the trees, shattering the stillness of the day.

This scene should not have been silent. After all, I was there taking the picture, and I was accompanied by two large dogs, two rambunctious children, and two lime-green bat-shaped sleds. Where was everyone? Had someone taken the bat-sled down the hill at such speed they slipped out of this reality and into another?

It really was suspiciously quiet. I thought I'd better investigate.

I made my way to the bottom of the hill, where I could hear the children's voices coming softly, faintly, out of the trees. They were somewhere off to the left. Rather than shatter the surreal quality of the moment by calling out, I decided to follow their tracks.

I followed them for some time, weaving in and out of the trees, sometimes turning abruptly and heading in a new direction entirely. Twice, I lost their trail, confused by the network of dog tracks that were intertangled with everything: snow, bushes, trees, branches, footprints.

Their voices had grown fainter, and seemed to be fading away. Growing concerned, I called to them. A reply came from somewhere ahead and slightly to the left of me; I made a bee-line for the sound, and there they were. Where? They had no idea where they were, or what direction to go in to find the trail. Their story was like this: the little one had started following dog tracks into the woods, and the bigger one had decided to follow her. Without letting me know first. It was their first woodsy adventure on their own, and they hadn't even thought of the possibility of getting lost.

Reunited, we headed straight for the nearest trail. The older one, the cautious one, declared he would stick to the trail from now on. But the little one wanted to head right back out there. She hasn't lost her taste for exploring.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

One day

I want to be the bed
you fall into
at the end of your journey

not a motel bed, me--
stale and generic,
with a stiff polyester bedspread
and magic fingers if you insert a quarter

I would be
an apple-pie bed, dry and warm
sheets fresh off the line,
quilt plump and waiting
smelling of no other
but you

Rachel Westfall
December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The way back home

Homeward I ride,
through arrogant traffic and deep exhaust;
over cold ruts and fresh powder;
snow striking my eyes until pellets of salt-ice
weigh my lids shut.

It’s uphill now,
my twenty-seven speeds reduced to three
frozen shut. As the sweat breaks
I feel newly transformed—a phoenix,
or at very least
a butterfly, beautiful, strong, special.

Something else I have become; something
undaunted by the cold, the sting of snow,
the impatient drivers, the spinning wheels.
I practically hover home
my three speeds now reduced to one
when one is all I really need, today.

Oh, how disappointing
to walk in the door, strip off
fogged glasses, look down
and find myself me,
yes still me, unchanged—sweater
covered in cat hair, drab and grey.

The dogs, not sharing
my dismay at all, woo with joy
because I am still me, just me,
and we are together

Rachel Westfall
December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Man doesn't judge Yukon by its bigotry

Just passing through? Check a piece of yourself at the door
your skin, that would be a good choice
You see, we come from all over
but we don’t like your model around here
No, sir

Good men like me, we come live up here
way up here to get away from you sorts, the likes of you
who would steal our women
Yes you would

See how they look at you, up and down
as if all they see is beauty
and majesty, and they can't smell your stink,
your stain

They looked at me that way once
I swear they did
Yes, I too was beautiful in their eyes, once
when I bought them drinks
drinks, drinks

But since you came round, that light
has gone from their eyes, just gone
and they only have eyes
for you

So you’re just passing through?
Check your skin at the door
cause we come from all over
but we don’t like your model around here
No, sir

Rachel Westfall
December 23, 2008

Man doesn't judge Yukon by its bigotry - Whitehorse Star

Monday, December 22, 2008

Resilient little beings

It was so cold yesterday, I could see the chickadee's breath, cottony clouds of white. There were three of the fluffy little guys hanging around the feeder as the sun fell, as well as two mice who ventured out from under the shed to collect any seeds the birds had missed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Blessed Yule

When I took this photo, it wasn't my intention to create a symbolic image of an egg and sperm. But what a great way to represent the fertility that lies beneath the longest night, fertility that is so potent it leads to the rebirth of the sun!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Haiku Festival

Remember learning the Haiku poetry form in school? Let's see what you can come up with! Here are a few the kids and I made up this morning.

While these were written in play (because I find playfulness a great way to encourage the kids to write), I certainly mean no irreverence towards the Haiku form. Any Haiku contributions are welcome, serious or silly-- please share your inspiration via the Comments form!

You may also notice a Limerick snuck in there.... the work we did with limericks last weekend seems to have made a lasting impression on the kids!

walking in the snow
we do not know where to go
we will never know
- Bela Westfall

spring thaw reveals gifts
mountains of wet doggie dung
fling it over there
- Rachel and Bela Westfall

in the night stars glow
they will go where we don’t know
shining on the snow
- Bela Westfall

the stars walk in the night
we see them shining so bright
they go to a cave
they fall in a wave
but now they feel alright
- Ursula Westfall—this started as a Haiku, but she got very upset by the short number of lines and turned it into a limerick!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One Christmas morning

The raven lay dead.
Her beak slightly open;
one wing outstretched
in a mockery of flight.

The boy ran, feet pounding,
slingshot bouncing in his hand,
still so new it was Santa-fresh.

He really hadn’t meant to harm,
only to tease the birds,
scatter them. When one fell,
crushed, yet still all shiny black
against the frost,
his heart dropped
into his feet.

He would erase the moment,
if he could. But he could only run
before someone
came and found him
standing there,
guilty as sin.

The ravens, the others--
they knew, and they followed him
the whole way home
teasing and chuckling
like it was a special day, their feathers
a great sparkling gift
to the earth.

Rachel Westfall
December 18, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The black penny

Some of what you speak
is so dark, we cannot see it

our fear is that great. Our eyes
avert instinctively, so sure,

so certain something foul lies
beneath, ribs torn, carcass
floating bloated-dead. And yet,

at times, your words
are born like composite flowers
sweet with dew, radiant
as the sun himself.

You see—

some of what you speak
teaches us to approach

sidelong, circling with
the slow patience of a fox,
tasting the air
for a hint of smoke or gilt

not daring yet to ask,

A penny for your thoughts?

Rachel Westfall
December 15, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Unguarded Utterance

A couple of my poems have just been featured on S.L. Corsua's monthly recommended reading list at Unguarded Utterance. This is the first time I've come across UU; my hit counter alerted me to it. What a beautiful, elegant blog filled with gorgeous writing. I highly recommend it!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday morning limericks

It's time for some more guest poetry!

Sunday morning limericks
by Bela and Ursula Westfall

There once was a freckly dog
that was playing in the fog
a squirrel she heard
so she flew like a bird
and landed in a bog

There once was a very loud cat
who looked a bit like a bat
he jumped in the air
while chasing a hare
and landed with a splat!

There once was a beautiful tree
that was guarded by a bee
protected from saws
and grizzly bear’s claws
and the beaver family

There once was a clown named Ned
when he bonked his head on lead
he wouldn’t get hurt
he’d fall in the dirt
then he’d get dirty instead

(Bela wrote this last one when he was about six, and he drags it out again every time we talk about limericks!)

Guest poets are always welcome, and I promise I won't tease you unless you're family. ;) Feeling limerickal this morning? Share your inspiration using the Comments form!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Spot the impostor

First one to spot the impostor wins a, er, squashed Tim Horton's paper cup, dropped from an obscene height from the beak of a cheeky bird. I might never grow tired of photographing ravens, and they seem to find their way into my writing quite often, too. You can see more ravens here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Spirit child

Her hair was fire
or was it air? a pulsatilla cloud

its strands frozen, motionless as the fear
struck her. It was her back

turned towards me, rigid, and her arms
wrapped securely around her bundle of special things

that gave her away. A child she was
no more, but an ancient soul

caught in this dizzying fragment of time, caught
in a wave of recollection.

Rachel Westfall
December 12, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

To heal what ails you

There's nothing like a woodstove to bring some cheer to the night. A woodstove outside in the snow is just that much better. We were just burning the stink of the paint off this one, but maybe I should cancel the installation and keep it outdoors, hmm?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The ice queen's breath

Her name was wind
and she was a cruel companion
licking crystalline snow
then tossing it
with perfect recklessness,
relentlessly into our eyes.

Her name was wind
and we bowed before her, squinting
only dreaming of having the power
to banish her.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

a fairy tale sleep

each night, It grew closer--
that which chased her in her dreams
and she woke fearful, sweat-soaked
and unrested, drawing her strength
more and more from the waking hours

until she began to fear
the once comforting arms of sleep.

one night, exhausted
from endless pursuit, she came at last
to a deep-woods pool of water.

how still it lay
and how sweetly it mirrored the sky
without a blemish.

under its perfect surface
she slid
smooth as an otter
and soundless.

it remains to be said--

when she woke, come day,
she found
her hair hung
in wet limp strands
crossing her forehead, woven
with leaves and anointed with
forest brine.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


The great secret
is that
you are



all day
the whole

and it breaks me
not to taste you
not to breathe
your air


Rachel Westfall
December 7, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Winter's coming

Thin-shirted child, I know you feel
the chill of autumn, smell the sniff of imminent snow
Maybe tonight?
Maybe only in the mountains, but
it will spread like contagion once it starts

Why do you stand alone on the empty
side of the playing field, your arms
wanting to wrap round your thin frame
to keep the wind out, but hanging
helpless by your sides

when others run
and chatter in accord down the other end?

This gloom of nights eating into day, this breeze
sends the small birds into clusters,
safe collectives seeking racemes of red-gold berries
as they wend their way south

So why do you bask in your loneliness, child?

Rachel Westfall
December 5, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

nameless III

since you no longer hold me the way
you once did

at night I roam the stars
aimlessly breaking
through twisted sleep

and wake unrested, blinking the crust of night
from my eyes

sightless eyes

Rachel Westfall
December 2, 2008


nameless II

Monday, December 1, 2008

the weaving II

Sweet child, I would give you all that I can...

I can’t offer you much that is tangible, but a castle
I would build from these words, if I may. The turrets

might not look like much from the outside, but inside
you’ll see how the windows are stained glass, streaked
with colour and shifting with age in the way

only glass can. One day, perhaps I will tell you
the tale of how they were made and annealed
at the mystical fires of the underworld. The halls

are stone hewn from the high mountains, and I may
tell you I shaped them myself with my bare hands,
or perhaps they were carved with the expert touch

of the short, burly, gruff earth-dwelling folk,
the sort you will only ever find in stories. You can see
them now, and hear their slow banter as they work

but as you grow into an older,
more practical sort, the memory will fade
into legend. But for now, sweet child,

in this castle may you find true rest, and dreams
that are pure and simple.

Rachel Westfall
December 1, 2008

the weaving

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

the ravens have eaten her heart

see how the thunderhead pounds
its coveted earth
heavy-handed as a jealous lover

just as the roiling sea loves the beach
against which it rails, raking angry
finger-marks through soft mounds of
care-tossed grains, silica and shell

Rachel Westfall
November 28, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Child of my heart

So I told him to paint a picture
in his mind of a place where
he had been closest to happiness. He spoke

of the dunes, the willow shrubs
that became impromptu forts
and the ravens playing
in the sand-stirred air. But then

he said he couldn’t make the feeling
come, and
he wished
he’d never
lived on this earth
at all.

But I believe, at night, he unlocks
the cage he has built
and allows his soul to fly,

When that soul must return
at ravenrise
to slide over the sill and back under,
I imagine it carries
beneath its arm
a slice of the predawn sky,
and from this

it makes its bed.

Rachel Westfall
November 26, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008


I would sew a book
with your words inside. In a fairy tale
it would have been a lock of hair
kept warm against my bare skin, or perhaps
imprisoned in a locket of gold. I once

heard a man tell, if he was cursed
with just an hour of hearing
in all his life

he’d rather spend his hour
in a room in which Horowitz
was playing the piano,
magnificently. So I would sew

a book with your words inside.

Rachel Westfall
November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

winter sky

There are some things that only a winter sky can heal.
This wound, torn new in the day

is one, but see how the frost settles
along its edges, crystals growing long

and knitting a perfect scarf around. Swallow
slowly and the feeling of terror will pass. The sky

draws its commas patiently around
each moment, dividing one from the next.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


if I sequestered my body
in here long enough,
the snow might curve round
and close off my only exit.

is involuntary hibernation a legitimate form of truancy?

unless the last flake slides into place
forming a perfectly sculptured
crystalline palace, impenetrable
to the scrabbling feet
of scavenging birds and mice,

this remains my dream
of imprisonment.

Rachel Westfall
November 20, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Writing in the dark

my love is a bruise
a hot reminder, creeping outwards
one soft pocket like the slow rot
of an apple
in this house full of knees and elbows

when they finally stop writhing and sleep comes
then I am sleepless, bolt upright
my den encased in ice crystals
long eyelashes of hoar frost

the whiskered ones come alive
padding, their opportunistic nests upturned,
each puzzled by this day-creature who
has disrupted their nocturnal order

Rachel Westfall
November 18, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

the last time

You surprised me when
you came out of the bar
that day, half-tanked in
broad daylight, still underage
and unsteady on your feet.

Why you approached me
that day I don’t know
but the fella who followed
you out of the bar
and asked me if
everything was okay, that fella
seemed concerned about
your intentions, though
he could barely see through
the fog of his inebriation.

Why you invited me over
that day I’ll never know, but
I figured you were probably
too far gone to remember
anyway, and my girlfriend
had other plans, and I didn’t
feel safe going there
by myself.

I guess you kept drinking
that day, cuz later I heard
on the street that your cousin
was waiting for me to show up
at your place, he had a knife
he wanted to stick me with
[I don’t know why since I never
spoke a bad word about him
not when people called him
a fag, not even when he broke
into my place, sniffed the solvent
out of the wood filler, then
pawned some things to buy
more filler to sniff. We found
him rolling on the bed that time
wood filler can in his hand
so we patched him up
and sent him on his way.]

It’s too late to patch you up
now, but I hope you found
something good along the way
some sliver of beauty, you know
the way beauty forces itself in
through the crevices
no matter how cruel the cage
we build around ourselves.

Rachel Westfall
November 14, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


but can you dance?

she twisted, checking her heels
for flaws, dressed all-out
in her man-hunting suit, grinning
cheekily at her friend, plain frumpy
and eternally beautiful—

thin-wired on a communal
pot of industrial coffee

Rachel Westfall
November 12, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

at the dump

Bottle-brush fox
you find an easy meal here, but it’s doing you no favours
your coat dead, your eyes dull glass

Garbage-bin fox
so far from home you are, so far
you have forgotten the taste of fear
so you stand near the bumper of a car,
a patient dumpster-diver
what feast these people might have brought

Junk food fox
your head swings round slowly to meet
my surprised gaze with the unintelligent look
of a video-game drunk teenager

and when the children see you, they speak
not of wonder
at having caught sight of a sliver
of wilderness mystery,
but of a tentative dream of rehabilitation

and like this, you are reborn
in our stories

Rachel Westfall
November 10, 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Stepping stones

Your tight body wrapped
around me, sleeping
lightly under twisted
sheets, it’s not the weight
of your arm across my
shoulders but the sense
of being necessary that
makes it hard for me
to pull away

I stay patiently at my desk
working through a spectacular
sunny afternoon not for the
paycheck, or some abstract
work ethic, but for the thought
of being near you, however
briefly when the clock
comes round

Do you ever wonder why
we often take ourselves so
seriously, we forget that
it was our shared laughter
that brought us together
back then?

Rachel Westfall
November 7, 2008


You think you are alone, but the cat is watching

the cat is watching you, motionless
except for the tip of his tail, its periodic twitch
a dead giveaway

he is watching

Rachel Westfall
November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

farewell, raven

I brushed the hoar frost
from your beak, transient white feathers
foreign to your indelible black;

I lifted your body gently, feeling
your fine rabbit-like bones with
my gloved hands;

I placed you where you could better hear
the sounds of the river rushing by,
freeze-up only now beginning.

Your body is under the snow
now, and the scavengers may find you,
but your soul they cannot touch.

Rachel Westfall
November 5, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008


when the journey matters more than
any destination
there is just one way to
go deep—
stay curious

trust me, I’m going somewhere with this

what was that all about?
why such a strong reaction
to just a few innocent words,
a glance, a shift in composure?

stay curious, stay with me
we’re heading somewhere deep

I once met a young woman
the day before she went deep,
so deep beneath the sea
she fell to the depths and was lost

what was she like that day,
the day before she died? singing,
spirited, fearless

rachel westfall
November 2, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008

invocation for the year-goddess

the princess of spring wears a heart-shaped face,
the first blossoms woven through her thick-plaited hair.
she is generosity, fertility, she is here to be taken-
here to be formed, shaped into what she will become.
I am not she.

the queen of summer wears a haughty composure,
great composite blooms radiating across her strong shoulders.
she is tiller, crop, harvester; she is the days of high sun,
the heady scent of blossom and the drone of the bees.
I am not she.

the matriarch of autumn wears a weather-worn look,
umbelliferous seeds teased into her makeshift crown.
she is the slowing of the season, the soil returning to its patient rest,
the taproots nestling deep in the earth.
I am not she.

the crone of winter wears a cobweb shroud,
her face never seen, for she is always turned away.
she is the rot and decay of the long, slow night,
the impartial judge of which will perish and which survive.
I am not she.

Rachel Westfall
November 1, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Karaoke in Autumn

Today's guest poet is Milena King, nee Westfall, aka my mischievous little sister. Ahem. I have warned her that she will likely receive many invitations for speaking engagements now that she has gone public with her writing.

If you like this one, you can find another of Milena's brilliant poems in the Comments section of this post. At that time, she was writing under the pen-name Gabriel, most likely to keep her talents hidden from the public eye for just a little bit longer.

Update 10/31/08: Milena has now named her poem Karaoke in Autumn. I've updated the title of this post to reflect this new name.

Update 11/03/08: Milena has submitted a photo of two of her offspring demonstrating the fine art of vocal entertainment. This talent must run in the family! I wonder, do they also write poetry?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Karaoke in Autumn

My fingers trace a path through four years of dust
Why did I forget?

I race down the stairs with my treasure
My heartbeat must be audible

Male connects with female, and the dead breathes new life

Static radiates from a blue screen
The tiny hairs on my cheeks stand to attention


I dedicate this to my loved ones
The beat resonates through the old house like a steam train

One more deep breath and I will be reborn
A more heartfelt tribute to Patsy, there has never been

Relax. Wait for applause.
Why am I alone?

Milena King

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

imaginary journey

You can go here whenever you need to think.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


words fall down

a child, sleepless, moves
from book to book, fending off
night terrors with compulsive
turning of the pages

each book falls down

striking the floor,
followed by footsteps,
thud thud thud
to the bookshelf
for another dose of word medicine

her eyes fall down

stealthily, but she catches them
propping them resolutely back up
on her words, forbidding
her body from becoming traitor,
selling out to a deceiving sleep

Rachel Westfall
October 28, 2008

Son of God?

This remarkable photo of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is on the CBC news website today. I have to admit I've never seen anything quite like it. I'm sorry I ever doubted the man. ;)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Poetic improv from the mischief makers

A new feature at The Waxing Moon: guest poetry! They said it, I wrote it down.... seriously, their play wasn't nearly as violent as it sounds. No tears were shed in the making of this poem.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
poetic improv from the mischief makers

this is the Ursie
who was crawling on the floor

this is the brother
who sat on her back
as she was crawling on the floor

this is the brother
who sat on her back
and gave her bottom a good hard smack
as she was crawling on the floor

this is the brother
who knocked her down
and made her hair into a crown
and sat on her back
and gave her bottom a good hard smack
as she was crawling on the floor

this is the brother
who dumped her on the couch
and she didn’t even say ouch
who knocked her down
and made her hair into a crown
and sat on her back
and gave her bottom a good hard smack
as she was crawling on the floor

Bela and Ursula Westfall
October 27, 2008

A heartfelt apology

In today's paper, Erich Stoll offered a full apology for his comment about buying votes with beer in Old Crow, Yukon. Thank you, Mr. Stoll, for your sincerity.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I apologize for my comments

Erich Stoll, Whitehorse Star, October 27, 2008

I would like to apologize for the stupid and hurtful comments made by myself regarding the people of Old Crow and Erik Nielsen. The comments were based on a story I had heard years ago which I know not to be true, and they were made in jest in casual conversation and never meant as an official statement.

These stupid and horrible comments are an example of the horrible things people can say in jest and which they do not mean and would never want showing up in a public newspaper. These comments should never have been printed in the Yukon News in the first place, but what’s done is done, and now it is a shame I will have to live with.

I want to offer my deepest apologies to the people of Old Crow, the family and memory of Erik Nielsen, Darrell Pasloski and his family and supporters, and to the Yukon Conservative Party and all its members. I did not mean to cause any of you any hurt or embarrassment.

Erich Stoll, Whitehorse

Thursday, October 23, 2008


As he runs up the stairs
birthday kite in hand
friends left far behind
in his excitement, their sounds
muffled at the bottom
of the stairwell

does he think of his daddy
for just a moment—pausing
with a vague feeling of unease

his thin blue windbreaker
ruffled slightly like a pale heron stranded
on a sandbar with winter coming

though he’s not sure why?

Rachel Westfall
October 23, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


what we hungered for
was to be that first thought
upon waking, to be the name
that slides like sunlight,
the ash that glows
to ember at a glance

Rachel Westfall
October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Public Service Announcement

I enjoy reading the Google search strings that bring people almost randomly to this blog.

This is to inform the person who was searching for "Darrell Pasloski sex tape" that I haven't got one here. Honestly.

Monday, October 20, 2008

nameless II

his heart was stone, so he sank freely
and easily to the bottom. this place
he came to know intimately—

and he drew meaning from
the current, the glimmer of
gemstones and rusted cans

his heart was stone, so he played freely
with the minds of those who loved him, learning
the landscapes of their bodies with the
dispassionate touch of a surgeon

and his fingers danced on sinew
elegantly as if it were
the strings of a violin, and he
a virtuoso

Rachel Westfall
October 20, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008


The well runs deep.

A world in its own right, stone walls
slick with unicellular inhabitants, accustomed
to the gloom and damp, untroubled
by echoes.

A world--

your descent began slowly at first
accelerating steadily, the air growing
thicker and more oppressive, the music
darker— you know

there’s no way to break your fall now.

And you no longer want to,
not really. There’s comfort
in being nestled in this dank quilt


Rachel Westfall
October 19, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

A story

Once there was a boy
who things happened to.
His mother could not raise him,
so his grandmother tried.
He was swept along
by the current. He was deeply loved
but he never knew it.

One day he woke as an adult,
dreaming within waking.
In this dream he learned
that he held his destiny
in his own hands, these hands
which had tilled earth and gardened,
had become worn with grief and worry,
but had never made
a single thing happen.

He saw the fragility of his destiny
and feared he would crush it,
his hands seemed so coarse-- so
he laid it tenderly
on a bed of lavender and turned his back,
afraid to watch it lying there
growing cold
naked and pale.

Rachel Westfall
October 17, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

October child

Like a sliver of aspen caught
by the rough breeze, there is a hint
of trouble in this child, a taste
of worry that just won’t ease. Yet

she is not afraid to run, and soon
she may fly, it seems, forgetting
momentarily what lurks in dark corners
breaking the hope of restful sleep.

Run, child, fly like the scattered leaves,
tossed by the uncharacteristic winds
of this changing world. You won’t
keep what you fear at bay forever,

but for now, the sun beats down, not
yet paled by the approaching deep
winter. The trees stretch their limbs
costumed for Halloween with rakish fingers,

laughing as they comb the sky.

Rachel Westfall
October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Because she'll only be six once

She was ready to try the school bus, her expression open,
body shifting towards its orange painted side
with the anticipation of a sunflower
catching the morning rays.

The bus pulled up, circled the corner and continued on by.
Her face fell. Her brother’s teasing adding
insult to injury; she could not think
of why the driver did not stop.

“Next time,” I said, “next time, we’ll flag him down, and he’ll know
you’re going with him today.” “Maybe this afternoon,”
she said, composing herself. “Maybe
this afternoon I can take
the bus home.”

At school, her classmates got off the bus and crowded around her,
Excited, drawing her in by the arm and saying, “I saw you!”
“Come,” they said, but she pressed against my bike
so they all stayed with her, a clutch of smiling
nest-mates reunited, waiting for the
irresistible sound of the bell.

Rachel Westfall
October 8, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

How she became a gardener

She reached up to the shelf
and took down the book, her eye caught
by the spiraling vine running up its spine.

She cracked the cover, her eyes lit
pupils widening with the dark of clear night,
liking what she saw, taking it in.

There were readers in her family,
many books, but gardeners, none. This book, though,
it drew a garden upon the landscape of her mind

a garden with bold stone courtyards, raised beds
arbours and trellises. This garden
had wild corners for the fey ones,

orderly beds for the lettuces. This garden
had a swing, soft in the shade of a weeping willow,
a tree to climb, rough bark to skin

the knees of the child who hid in her boughs,
knees to run a thumb over, then taste
a lick of metallic blood. This garden

was the dream that bridges books
with earth, that brought the existence
of the librarian’s daughter into the material plane.

Rachel Westfall
October 6, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bumper sticker

Available from the World Carfree Network; I'd love to see one of these on every Hummer!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

When the kids are in the bath

The Empress lies on her cushion
licking her front paw
elegantly, as the Emperor
looks on. His chin resting
on a blanket of soft velour, his eyes
close slowly
with a soft exhalation of breath.

This throne room was, minutes ago,
just the detritus
of a dismantled play fort, constructed
hastily from the soft parts
of the sofa and chair
as they sat bonily denuded,

abruptly exposed
but ever dignified, and now
doubly dignified
by the sudden
elevation in status
of their flesh

worthy of kings
and queens.

Rachel Westfall
October 1, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008


Cool air, downed leaves
we ran the trail fast, bike led by dogs
led by the elusive scent of possibility.

A small bird, one wing not working right,
stumbled across the trail in front of us.

The dogs got there first.

Fauna, the wild one, scooped him up
gently in her mouth,
his foot twitching, his belly white
with soft down. On command
she dropped him, then scooped him again
in her mouth, cradled on her pink tongue
though he lay still. Once again
she dropped him, and he twitched
lightly but made no other effort
to escape. I laid the bike down
and held him in my hands—dark, soft

as he pushed tentatively against my hands
with his small beak. Dark head, he seemed
alert now, so I let him go
under a tree
hopefully to recover. The dogs—
so uncommonly good—stayed with the bike
and by some miracle didn’t drag it into the ditch
bending cogs, but instead
waited for their treat
not so restless now, though like me

they cannot sit still
on these days when the trees don their
Halloween costumes
[bare limbs reaching

and frost waits for us
slippery, deceptive
in hidden pockets of shade.

Rachel Westfall
September 26, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008


bring me a splinter of the sunlight
that I can see
in the depths of your eyes

a swallow of your air,
cool and moist with the scent
of the mountains will draw me
back down into my body,
[that neglected home
of the soul which aches
now in distant memory
of the time before]

slide your hand
down my spine,
as the joy rises up
into my throat and presses there,
roosting proud as a homing pigeon

Rachel Westfall
September 21, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008


The ravens choose a direction, bickering briefly

then travel with one mindset—never criss-cross.
Maybe independence is not individual, but
rather a virtue communally shared. Now here we are,

silly humans, lost at cross-purposes,
occasionally moving in tandem
more by chance than by design.

We strayed, then years later

here we are, battle-scarred
but still smiling. We know
one another’s scent with the certainty
of littermates, eager to hear

the stories that carried on
though our ears were turned away
for so long.

Rachel Westfall
September 19, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Song for Angel

Wet road, spit
a cup of Timmy’s double-double
and another
yet another tag on the wall
won’t keep you safe

There’ll be no nest for these angels, but
we’ll have a pretty nice
damn highway
Yeah, another smooth highway that will
take you to
the highway of tears
if you follow it along,

if you make it that far

Sleep well,
sweet angels

Sweet Angel

Your mother will remember
the feel of her mouth briefly touch
your forehead, her hand
as it brushed the damp hair
from your brow, cheeks flushed
as night came

sweet child

You are lost,

but we’ll have a pretty nice
damn highway

Rachel Westfall
September 15, 2008

-> Angel's Nest
-> Richard Mostyn's editorial on highways and youth shelters
-> Highway of Tears

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The last child

A word starts small. The child,
dreaming nightly of bird-flight and the
cool moist night air on her cheeks, awakens

despondent each morning in the same stale
nightie and twisted sheets. Nobody understands
why she cries when she wakes, nor

why her drawings are all of trees, sky
mountains and open air, though she lives

in this city choked with high-rises thick
like weeds blocking the light.

Somewhere inside this child, there is a story
which starts with a word, which starts
small. Like dandelions breaking

tenaciously through pavement, each dream
pushes its tender head softly and persistently
against the unyielding concrete of reality,

one day sure to find light.

Rachel Westfall
September 11, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008


Wanted: a nurturing community to cherish and support two inspired, earth-connected children and their malcontent mother.

A place where random acts of violence and angry words cannot disrupt the natural ebb and flow of life.

A tribe that believes in working together to build what is needed, rather than competing for scarce resources.

A government built on collaboration and consensus, not on division and self-reward.

A safe place to grow a unique child without the threat of being ostracized for being different.

Human companionship without anger and resentment.

Small-town Canada need not apply.

Rachel Westfall
September 8, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

woodland prophecy

walk carefully where the moss
grows thick,
suffocating root and rock, cushioning
nodding red beads
of cranberry.

this place does not speak
the language
of anger. your hostile words

fall deadened to the ground, scattered
alongside yellowed leaves
of birch, rendered harmless.

sharpen your intent
or this place will bring on
a slow confusion, drawing you
into endlessly spiralling
endlessly spiralling trails
until dark comes,
holding you fast
as the air
grows chill.

walk carefully. this place
does not speak the language

Rachel Westfall
September 7, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

Creation story

Three days went by while I coughed,
hard—clearing something unknown.
Then one morning an egg emerged
from my surprised mouth, open as
the point of an exclamation mark, the egg
hard and luminous as a dragon’s.

What will be birthed from this
inelegant pause in vocalization?

Three days went by, and I hardly
seemed to notice. Now—I wonder—will it be days,
weeks or infinity times infinity before this new being
is ready to emerge, mouse-like from
its impossibly smooth, calciferous
place of refuge?

Rachel Westfall
September 5, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


A long weekend at the beginning of autumn, speckled with sun, a cool wind and a small lake, the latter abandoned now by the summer revellers who have gone seeking warmer bodies of water to bare their skin and consume frothy beverages beside.....

Monday, September 1, 2008

Aspen walk

Even with the aspen leaves turning yellow and beginning to blanket the trail, the dogs can always find the way. They stick to the trail these days, reluctant to risk being nipped on the butt (again) by a bold coyote should they stray too far into the woods... though I'd hoped to see our coyote friend once more, since she shadowed us the last time we walked here.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

an inner tale

in the throes of fever, she watched
a small brown spider slowly
make her way up the wall
to the ceiling, across the plaster
and into a small hole beside
the dust-wrapped light fixture.

later, she could not say
whether it had really happened,
or she had dreamed it up as a way
of captivating her restless mind,
trapped as it was
in the fog-enshrouded
thick head of illness.

Rachel Westfall
August 30, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

or maybe tomorrow

cold rain today,

[in those long, hard days
of west-coast winter
how many students
did arthur erickson drive to suicide
with his
miserable concrete architecture?]

green brings calm, and the rain
nourishes green
if we let it
grow lush rampant, taking hold
in cracks with persistent roots
crumbling what we have foolishly
built, grain by grain

dissolving grey-
the grave, the colour
of tombstones,
diseased tissue and stale

cold rain today,

and the cracked earth swells

Rachel Westfall
August 28, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Road-kill II

We emit some small sound
as we take flight the first time.

Once a man tried to free-fall
hoping to kiss the ground in one final act;

only to discover he had wings that long lay unused,
atrophied to the point that they could only
weakly flutter, his joy at their discovery

shattered by the realisation that he’d left it
too long. His heart flew boldly

for those few moments, drawing
the moon from the sky
into his waiting arms.

When he struck earth
she cradled him lovingly

for a mother is equally blessed
by each of her creations, no matter
how stunted.

Rachel Westfall
August 25, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008


Fat chalk in hand, bird-child
draws lopsided daisies up
and down the asphalt.

Thin shoulder-blades
protrude like stunted wings
through her thin cotton
t-shirt, mocking the blackflies
that seek the tender skin
of her nape.

They say each of us
has the potential to create
some small beauty.

Cold grey rain
painted with smog
will soon erase
the carefully sketched blossoms
while the pavement remains indelible,
its wavering a heat-drawn
illusion but its stink of tar

Rachel Westfall
August 22, 2008