Saturday, May 31, 2008

sacred space

in my mind
there is a mossy
wooded hollow

neither long
nor wide, but
rounded, just
right for a person
to sit

at its entrance
is a large granite
stone, a perfect
natural
table, neither
perfectly smooth
nor perfectly flat

but rounded, with
small crevices
where insects hide

the air
in this hollow
smells of the sweet
woods

all there is
in this hollow

is
you


Rachel Westfall
May 31, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Two of our new porch residents



There are some baby chickadees tucked away in one of the birdhouses. Lots of swallows came around today, and one peeked into the chickadee house. She looked really shocked to find someone in there! She hopped back quickly onto the laundry line and tried to look composed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The writing on the wall

As I was walking
down the street today,
a Shade passed me by.

I was unprepared
for the encounter.

The glimmer of joy
that had been surfacing
like a pale alpine flower
meeting the first spring sun

rapidly shriveled
and withdrew, as if scorched
by hard frost.


Rachel Westfall
May 28, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ride the lightning

After a sharp left
we head up the dirt road.

Fast.

This is something you do with
friends in the car, heavy on the accelerator
and harsh with the brake.
The aim is not to shock
but to thrill, shaking off
frustrations, anxieties and
that intermittent pain that has
no discernible source and comes
from somewhere within—some body part
that hasn’t been found and studied yet.

There is no substitute for the risk
of speed, the recklessness that gave
the white knuckle bar its name.

Music pulses loud from the stereo,
heavy metal
distorted beyond recognition but still
worth having because it gives us
one less thing to think about.

We reach the top of the hill, pull over
by a sandstone cliff face, watch
the swallows swarm like mosquitoes,
and pass a fat joint.

Someone says, down there is where
Gordie died. Right there is his car went over,
last summer. My dad helped
pull him out.

We respond with long slow silence,
pondering,
taking deliberate drags of skunky
BC bud and holding our breath
until we choke
and burst.

Someone changes the tunes and
we’re off again,
still faster now--
celebrating our shared madness
which will one day pass, whether we
move onto other things

or we take the plunge
like Gordie did. He is immortalized now-
our teenage demigod, ever
unchanging with his eighties ringlets and his
ass-fitting jeans-

he has become legend.


Rachel Westfall
May 27, 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ancient one

She is Baba Yaga.

Her fence is not made of bones and adorned with skulls;
these things are no longer in vogue with the neighbours
and they contravene local bylaws.

Instead, she buries her bones in the rose garden
(they are mostly from long lost, once loved pets;
not the bones of children, as was rumoured).

Her fence is perfect white vinyl lattice.

You would never know who she is
from looking at her fence;
you would never guess what lies beneath.

Go through the perfect, catalogue-ordered gate
and you will see, her home is not an exotic shack
hopping around the yard on the
giant foot of a chicken.

No, it is not. That delightful image is from long-ago
Slavic tales, and it does not suit this
banal subdivision. It would disturb the neighbours
and besides, the building code requires
a concrete foundation.

Her chicken’s foot resides well below the surface
where it can hop undetected. Fortunately the foot
is the silent part of the chicken. Hoots, clucks
and braying sounds are not permitted
within city limits.

As for her pestle and mortar, well, she does not dare
to fly since she lives so near the airport.
This mode of transportation
does not meet national standards for aircraft safety,
and besides, where would she land
amongst all these vinyl monstrosities?

You would never know who she is.

Yet she is here,
very real, very old, very ready
to make a meal of your most delicious
childhood afternoons,
your fondest memories, the taste of your sweet one
on your lips. You will feel the loss
of these treasures like the ache of
a missing tooth

once you have crossed her path.
You will be sucked dry of any joy, any delight

and you may not even know it has happened.


Rachel Westfall
May 26, 2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Startled

Something just flew,
unbidden
from the centre
up into the rafters.

There it will stay,
timid
until it feels safe
to come down.

Don’t try to speak
now
for I am unable
to respond.


Rachel Westfall
May 24, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

all shitty things must come to an end

She could follow-follow
always ten steps behind,
shorter in stride than he and
laden with heavy bags

He would stride along in his
usual way, swaggering
at a comfortable pace for him
not noticing if she was still there
behind, but if one day she wasn’t
there would be hell to pay

oh yeah, hell to pay
for that bitch

Yes she could follow-follow
or she could stop
pause
right here
on the curb, drop
the bags, sit
and take stock of the day

A robin on the grass, over there
searching,
two small snotty-nosed kids chasing
a third on a bike,
a pair of
emerald-tinged swallows in the air
moving in formation,
identical smooth arcs traced finely
(no inequities there)

Yes she could pause
and the bastard would not notice,
for a while. When he eventually spots her absence
(maybe he needs a swig out of one
of the bags) he may yell,
getoverhere
and maybe she will stand, pick up her bags
and shuffle on,

or maybe not. Maybe
one of these days, she will tell him
he can go rot in hell

and she will turn and walk slowly
and resolutely in the
opposite direction,

down the street
to her sister’s place.


Rachel Westfall
May 22, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

these are not secrets

moss carpet
satin green
celebrating the endless
festival of small beetles with
rows of blossoms
like little umbrellas, held gingerly
up through the semi-light

lichen curtain
dust grey
drawn over spruce branches
marking their
perpetual mourning for
the loss of dry feet

broken stump
rust red
cramped with the perfect tunneled
homes of little hidden
wood-eaters, fourteen-legged
and quick to roll into a perfect
ball, armadillo-like
at the first sign of
disturbance

these are not secrets,
no, but mental images
which will you may
rediscover when the rest has
faded beyond recognition and
you can’t remember where
you left your toothbrush or
what you are doing standing
here beside the fridge

hand on the door handle, but mind
in a low stretch of woods long since
gone, its location forgotten
even in the local history maps

once, you thought a place
could be immortal

in a way, you were right
it seems
the earliest imprints
are the most resilient

Rachel Westfall
May 21, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Supermarket

We need more lemons
but you won’t find a lemon tree within
a thousand miles of here

Would soapberries do?

Best bring in another citrus shipment
by jet plane, direct from Florida
a dollar a lemon, going cheap—

but wouldn’t it be cheaper
in the long run
to move to Cuba?

The rhythm of that island, its fruits and its
impossible flowers would be
a welcome change,
but nothing like the
changing seasons

We need bananas too, so maybe
we should see if one of us can get elected
as President of a banana republic,

hopefully a republic not deep under the
shadow of the USA and recently
restructured by the World Bank
(though that job might be going cheap on EBay)

The President gets all the bananas she wants,
doesn’t she?

We could eat plenty of bananas before
the next military coup

Pineapple, anyone?


Rachel Westfall
May 20, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

there are no horses here

we are fragile, we humans

our emotions
spun thin round us, a delicate task
ever seeking balance and making
repairs

your web and mine, both strong,
but so easily disturbed

what can
we do but shelter
the swallows, the spiders
the ants in a futile attempt to
ward off death?

spin me a world, a universe
a place where our strands

cross, connecting

the empty space inside you to the one
I hold in me

then we may feast
on the dark clear waters of
our making

our backs arched
strongly, the imagined sounds
of fleet-footed ones sliding past us
abruptly
on the wind


Rachel Westfall
May 19, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Nutty boy

This one hates to have his picture taken, but I figure anyone who rides a tricycle on a trampoline deserves to be immortalized!

Friday, May 16, 2008

the unspoken

In the dreamtime

we were in the same room
together,

but it must have been parallel universes
intersecting for a brief moment

because we were speaking
at the same time, in different languages

and though our voices overlapped,
each was barely audible to the other.

I could see you there clearly, but
I knew that if I reached over to touch you

my hand would pass
right through.

It must have been a mistake,
a cruel accident in the layering

of worlds that placed us
so dangerously near and yet

so very far.


Rachel Westfall
May 16, 2008

The weight of the world

The burden that you carry is
yours alone.

It seems to me that you cling to it
as fiercely as it clings to you.

I cannot claim it as my own, nor will I
help you carry it, for it only grows heavier
the stronger you get.

I do not know its name nor can I
help you to name it, and thereby
make it harmless.

Nor will you learn its name from the wind,
for its true identity lies sheltered
deep within you where the weather cannot reach
until your journey has long since ended and
your bones are picked clean.

Only you can uncover
the truth.

This burden is yours alone.


Rachel Westfall
May 16, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

mindfulness

being in the present is
a necessary pause

there are secrets that we miss, like
gold tulips as yet underground
ripe with promise, when our eyes are locked
firmly on sooner or later and our
thoughts linger on dropped connections,
the line done raging and long since
fallen silent

what are you feeling? is there an ache, an itch
or a background process, programmed to run in a
continuous loop

and is it overdue for revision?

when you redraw your border, who
will you exclude?

Rachel Westfall
May 15, 2008

The Mother Magazine

One of my all-time favourite magazines, The Mother Magazine, will be printing four of my poems in an upcoming issue:
the wait
why i am late
Outside in
The woods

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

watch the skyline

Is there hope?

The ravens chuckle as they leave us,
their feathers glinting of
coal and diamonds.
Ground-locked as we are, we cannot follow.

If not now, then in a dream
or some distant incarnation
we might find so elegant a path, the vague memory
of gravity unable to restrain us.

The wind will speak truth and set
our course, the night sky
our compass.

There is always hope, so long
as we have dreaming.

Rachel Westfall
May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Breaking point

The first time it happened, she wondered
if everything had stopped.
Time, place and motion- all at once
dropped to the floor

shattered

then slowly,
everything began to pull
back together,
to gel, regaining form and function.
When it happened again, she felt the ache
that repetition brings, the cells’
collective memory of wound
and healing.

What the body remembers. Each particle, in the
ciphered language of genetics can vividly
recall the extremities of our collective histories,
drawing them to the surface each time
the story is repeated.

Rachel Westfall
May 13, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

swing

bone-cold silence, songbirds
stilled by grief
clasping memory which slips
away like

a breath, exhaled

a dream of

running high on the wind
this wind, a kite soaring
over, weaving under
deeply

walk with me, little one-
it is too soon to fly


Rachel Westfall
May 12, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008

the wait

shell-pink
fingernails
reflect otherworldly
light through wet
gloom

the soft curve of
an ear, barely
discernible, reflects
the memory
of ones who lay
before
in this womb-bed
leaving their imprint
perfectly cast

a sliver of history
entwines around
the future, waiting
vine-like:
a parasite
seeking an opportunity to
resurface


Rachel Westfall
May 9, 2008

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Global warming

Imagine it was
your body
in which
all this contamination lay.

Pools of garbage, chemical
spills, tiny toxic corpses courtesy of
pest control officers,
and dying oil-drenched
ducks—

Would you not also be
running a fever in hopes
of throwing off
the parasite that
caused
this mess?


Rachel Westfall
May 8, 2008

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

nostalgia

dust, pine cones
steep hills loose with sand
ducks, squirrels scolding
and then there is the pond—
glorious in her coat of ice-melt and
rush of water over her
mud-banked dam

why under all this
spring bustle
is there
a hint of sadness?

and thoughts of
apple crisp, made with lemons, cinnamon
oats and brown sugar, apples
peeled from trees in the backyard
worm eaten
yet perfect

Rachel Westfall
May 7, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

New resident

I'm glad there's still somewhere for these little beings to nest.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Border

Let me draw your attention to
the fine vertical line
I have drawn down the centre of
this chalkboard, green paint
slowly starting to peel
on the corners, particles
of white dust floating
through the false fluorescent air and
catching
our voices dry.

As you can see, this
line divides the room
in two. Observe

whether you are sitting on
the left or right side
of the room. If you are
exactly in the centre as if
the line would pass
through your body, you
must choose
a side. You cannot;

You cannot belong
to both.


Rachel Westfall
May 5, 2008

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Urban development is good for children

Sure it is.

After all, the woods are a dangerous place, home to mysterious child-eating witches and frightening, sharp-fanged wild animals that make strange noises and move stealthily through the trees at night. Children go off into the woods and are never seen again. Right?

A few years in the woods can transform a child into a wild being unrecognizable even to her own parents. Imagine your own child going into the trees and coming back years later as something.... transformed. Something unknowable.

Besides, a child could be walking down a trail and trip over a root, or hit her head on a branch, and never be the same again.

Best eliminate the very possibility of such a tragedy. Best flatten everything and pave it over. Who wouldn't want to reduce the fear of the unknown and tame the environment in which their children live?

And this beast of human construction, so gently cradling a little one in its huge mouth, would never eat a child, right?

Right?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

When realities collide

On the riverbank, denuded
of forest

life continued as usual in Antopolis
just a foot or two away from the
fresh destruction
sand piles
and heavy machinery

The residents of Antopolis, part red, part black
commuted as usual up and down their
chewed log, staying politely in their lanes
except for the occasional wobble
into oncoming traffic, a deviation

which always brought about much scolding
and antenna-wagging
from the neighbours

because small errors like this
can be seen and corrected, while human-sized
mistakes
are unfathomable

and what we cannot name
must not
exist

Rachel Westfall
May 3, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008

morning sights






The aspen trees are blooming
End of the road
Trees used to live here. The fence wears an orange ribbon in remem-
brance