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
sometimes
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,
dreamside.

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

keepsake

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

Cave

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,
wind-torn

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
incoherent
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

caffeine

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
wondering
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

III.
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

II.
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

I.
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

mischief

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

roadmap

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
alive


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