Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Long-time-ago gull

The gull was young when I took this picture, long enough ago that the colour in the print has started to shift. Does anyone know how long gulls can live? Is this an ancestral-archival picture of someone who is long gone from this life, or a baby picture of someone who is now an adult, with generations of children of his/her own?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

feline night thoughts

The cat’s jaw clicks steadily as he sleeps,
his tongue pressing mechanically
against his palate. I wonder

if he’s dreaming of his mother
and the life-milk she fed him,
or of a bird, his typical waking-jaw-clack
muted by his curled posture.

His toes are long, like fingers,
strong and elegant; so useful
for tipping water-glasses
so the fluid runs curiously
out across the table and onto the floor.

His tail curls across his nose
and for once, he is still.

Rachel Westfall
July 29, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

just another suburban evening

those people next door pull up
in their shiny clean car and get out
smiling at nothing
looking anywhere but
towards me

these are not neighbours
they are just next-door people, nothing more

they hustle into their house
shut the door
before unwanted eye contact happens

contaminating them with something?

maybe it’s the garden soil
under my fingernails, the sweat
I brush off my forehead as I
stand up from gardening and
push my hair back, or maybe
its the colour of my skin
or it could be madness they fear,
some contagion, some social disability

now is it my imagination, or has
their house begun to lean now
ever so slightly
from mine?

Rachel Westfall
July 28, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008


it is dark in here.


so quiet you can hear
the rush of fluid through
your head as your heart
beats; so dark you can

sense but not see
the Drosophila meandering
across your screen.

deprived of steady electronic
hum and sensory overstimulation
what will you seek?

touch your skin and
you may find nerve
endings that were lost
have come alive, reaching

for the promise of light
with the certainty of night
seedlings at the new moon.

Rachel Westfall
July 27, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Tell me a story, you say,
but it’s the smell of cinders
in your hair that brings
memory rushing back now

a wall of story formless
and without words.

When scent and image collide, what is there
but an animal, feral, standing frozen
silent and strange at the top of the hill?
Remember the spark
of fear as reality
broke into daydream.

We quietly receded, humbled, even
apologetic for having intruded;

but later, because it didn’t belong,
and its edges were growing fuzzy
already like the skin of a peach, its
tone washed sepia,

we discreetly filed the moment
as dream.

Rachel Westfall
July 26, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008


this is Miranda

she is forty-something, short,
and looks nothing like
her photograph

nothing at all

there‘s a number you can call,
you’ll find it at the top of your screen

for just $3.99 a minute
she will tell you whatever you want to hear,
nothing more,
nothing less

Miranda is for sale
by the minute. it is a simple thing
to get what you pay for
a simple transaction
money for action

nothing left to chance

but the voice at the other end
of the line

[all in a day’s work]

as the shadows grow long
Miranda will go home,
suck on a cigarette
strangle her pillow
and cry herself to sleep

for tomorrow is another day
and this one is done.

Rachel Westfall
July 24, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


if something grey fluttered by,
would you call it moth or sparrow?

witness the metamorphosis,
and you may learn your own true name

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

night magic

I turned the music on
and left the room,
just briefly.

When I returned, she
had become a bat
with wings
of tattered purple velour.

The music sung her
into eating time,
roosting time, and
she soared

through the night sky
that only she could see

with the mental acuity of
her borrowed species.

Rachel Westfall
July 22, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm telling you, it's all your fault

what if it had been somebody else
calling you this time instead of me,
a tin foil roasting geezer, maybe, or an aging auntie
who misdialed when she tried to call dial-a-prayer
looking for hope for the future, but instead
she got your message of impending doom?

what if auntie, giving up hope, unravelled her latest
knitting project, made herself a noose from
the joyfully coloured yarn, and put godspeed
into the natural process by which we all
return to the earth, leaving her frou frou dog
to fend for herself in a world filled with venomous snakes
and inexplicably angry squirrels?

what if it was all your fault? how could you live
with yourself, having so rashly answered the phone
with the startling news of an impending Armageddon?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

peace of mind

if only it could have worked

but that train of thought is lost
and now a piece has gone missing
tunnelled into the earth, safe in velvet mud

and it will not be coaxed back out

for who would choose to leave
such a slippery womb? We each
have the potential

to grow a garden in our hearts, a festival
of berries and a hundred shades of green

but instead, we collect lost tokens
and wonder why we wander aimlessly
in search of meaning

Rachel Westfall
July 20, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

the weaving

What is that sound? I said.

It is the wind, she replied

in a voice gentle as a meadow,

the sound of

stories partly told,

of love letters unanswered,

of cries heard and unheard,

of the earth calling her children

to her so their ribs may

be strewn long and moss-covered

across her body.

Tell me a story, I said.

You are a story, she replied.

You are the weaver and the woven,

a child of the dawn, the mystery

and the answer. You are my story,

and I am your dreaming. Without you,

I would not be. Without me, you

would never have been told.

What is that sound? I said.

Rachel Westfall
July 18, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Her soul was an empty room,
pale green curtains billowing in
as the summer wind
brushed by the tall windows.

Could she birth a new day?

If you walk up the garden path,
lined with hydrangeas and humming
with solitary bees, pause a moment

to glance in the window of the house
as the curtain momentarily lifts.
You will see—

Nobody is home.

Rachel Westfall
July 17, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

an answer

There is a wolf in the sky, running. This is a winter sky, darkly inhabited by ice beings, filled with sound as they rattle their frozen tresses. The wolf shakes, shedding a cap of snow, faltering now in his steady stride. He looks back and calls questioningly in a low voice. I answer.

Who am I, you ask? I am the one who answers the call. The voice of the south wind, bringing light’s slow return and the sun’s warm breath across your nape.

This breath is the fabric of dreams. The ozone scent of rain, of rainforests. The lazy hum of the spring awakening of the boreal forest. The return of songbirds, the birth of their young.

We rest. The earth holds us tenderly; she cares little where we are on our journey. It matters only that we are. We are.

Rachel Westfall
July 11, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

An existentialist question

If I am dust in the air
a dry cough
aimless, drawn to pieces
animated by
the relentless pull of wind

then who are you?

Rachel Westfall
July 10, 2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The moment before

There was a break-in last night and
the babies are gone. Two swallows

are panicking in their grief—clinging
to the walls, their claws like bats’

desperately checking and re-checking
the nest and hunting for new real

estate. One plucks at the rough
siding with her beak in desperation as if

an answer might emerge from a splinter
of painted wood

while the cats watch through the
window and clack their excitement

tails flicking

Rachel Westfall
July 8, 2008

Sunday, July 6, 2008


you have a way of

falling blind

from cloud, trusting

the wind

will collect you

draw you back up,


moving like an arrow now

no target but the freedom to slide



Rachel Westfall
July 6, 2008

Bird's eye view

If you sat in a poplar tree, this is what you'd see of my backyard. I'm supposed to be on holidays right now. Why, then, do I have no time to either sit in the poplar tree, or write poems?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

you call it trouble

there is a bridge here, under which
stones tumble
with free abandon

as if the waters of a creek
flow over, clear and bright
rapidly churning
rushing loud

but there is no water
to be seen. This fear

that you feel is needless

for you are as safe here
as you will ever be
anywhere. The bridge

enfolds you in her stone
arms and cradles you
timelessly against disaster

Rachel Westfall
July 3, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

the road to paradise

It's not a road, but more like a narrow path, choked with tree roots and lined with raspberry canes and wild roses. The humidity is not to be believed, and the mosquitoes are lazy and plentiful. Paradise, it seems, is always behind you, since the path takes you only one place-- in full circle.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Nothing tastes better than a juicy dandelion, after a long bike ride to a secret island on the first of July...