Friday, May 29, 2009

Chipmunk

With all the clearcutting and construction in the area, this little fella has decided to take up residence in my woodpile. He's been very busy gathering mouthfuls of hay and fluff, stopping every minute or so for a snack of bird seeds. You can't really tell from the picture, but he's quite tiny, not much bigger than a gerbil. Nonetheless, he's quite brave; he rushed out and scolded my son last night for leaning against the woodpile.

Progress stripped your home
so you wandered, lost, this way
settled down by me

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Freshly made love

This is a morning for chocolate,
for the sun’s kiss tingling smooth-slick skin
and robins, contented in their rich song.

Crack the window for the unforgettable smell
of line-dried sheets and a touch of rain
on the chaos-wild garden.

This is a morning for cow-plops,
horse-doovers in the tall meadow grass,
and bluebottle flies all a-buzz.

Somewhere, freckled kids laugh
along a barbed-wire fence, tickle-grass
and dirt roads their new mother.

Rachel Westfall
May 28, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Love

To love is a choice:
slow mountains yearn
with patience, broad
and stone by stone
caress the plains
so as not to crumble
alarmingly, nor suffocate
the fair grass-swept
dear flatlands of their desire.

To love is a promise
the swallows make
to the bright spring sky,
into which they soar
with trust and joy,
never to doubt or criticize,
nor have eyes for another
(perhaps that hot-sweet
sky of summer?)

To love is the loss
the river takes
when she releases her guard,
her crust of ice
to warm her embrace
for the nesting gulls
who she held in her heart
all winter long
though they had left her,
fickle, seeking warmer flows
nigh on a year ago.
(This year, this year
oh finally,
perhaps they will stay?)

Rachel Westfall
May 24, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hawthorn

What you don’t know is that I,
having nothing left to lose,
set down root and burgundy thorn
just here, alongside silent stone
beside your door, your intimidating door
looming broad, carved strokes of wood
dressed all brass-knockers and shiny knobs;

I set down root and burgundy thorn
and cast my limbs surreptitiously wide
so I might snatch you as you saunter by
tangle and trip you so you bloody your chin,
split and scar your surly chin
across the rough-hewed path.

Rachel Westfall
May 22, 2009

Feeling just a little bit prickly today?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Skullduggery!

Skullduggery!

He turned from the window and looked at me out of the side of his eye, flashing with delight, grin maniacal. Turning back, he peeped through the blind so the neighbours wouldn’t know they had a witness.

It’s skulduggery, just look! The old auntie, I saw her on Wednesday, giving that young man hell in the garden. Just giving him hell, pointing at all those prickly weeds and shaking her finger, her jowls flapping. You should have seen him, he’s got to be fifty with his hair thinning and his belly gone to pot, and he just stood there with head hung low like a naughty little boy. When she was done, he got behind her and rolled her wheelchair inside like it was just another day. Well I haven’t seen her since, they went in the house and I never saw her come out. Now there they are, digging a hole in the garden like there’s no tomorrow. Skulduggery!

I joined him at the window, peered at the goings on next door. His three middle-aged neighbours, a man and two women, all dressed in nice conservative clothes like it was a church day, had clustered around a corner of the garden. This was a wild, mature garden, the kind with enviable ancient roses growing up the sides of the house’s stone foundation, with flagstones sticking out here and there through its carpets of moss and grass. I lusted after gardens like this, ones that made my feeble attempts at cultivating my own suburban strip of sand and clay seem laughable. One of the women held a potted plant in her hands, and the other stood, hands on hips, gazing up into the maple tree. The man held a garden shovel, that infamous tool of skulduggery.

They’re planting a clematis, dad, I said.

Oh, they make it look that way, you see? I know these nefarious types. Just wait until it’s dark, then we’ll see what they really need that big hole for. His eyes gleamed, the gaps in his teeth crackling in anticipation. They’ll put the clematis in to cover up the hole. So it doesn’t look like anything’s changed, you see?

A house down the street, when they excavated to build an addition last summer, you know what they found? Bones. Human remains. Probably a hundred years old, they think, and nobody knows where they came from.

He rubbed his hands together, rifled through the clutter on his table and pulled out a newspaper clipping, brittle, slightly yellowed. He stuck it right under my nose, close, too close for my eyes to focus, and I shifted back a little just to see it right.

Just wait, one day they’re going to knock down that old house, and guess what they’ll find?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ugh

The garden is full of stones.

The smooth patches, let’s call them happiness.
Delight, bliss, rapture even.

Lay here for a while, soak up some sun.
Feel it run through you, tingling,
the hiss of birdsong, the squawk of a leaky tap.

Thunk.

There’s one of those blessed rocks I warned you about.
Shouldn’t have let your head down so damn hard.

That’s what our soft spots are here for, isn’t it?
So we can hurt, bleed, crack open.

So you can see what’s inside,
our juicy, squishy pomegranate bits,
stone.
Not stone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Easing in

Even a break of a few days from writing, and I feel like I need to ease back in. These are times when I appreciate haiku. It is demanding in such a contained, predictable way, requiring so few words. It's as if I feel myself resisting the journey back to language itself:

feral, tangled mane
when I toss and rear, resist
rhythm gentles me

Interview with Jorc

Remember those interviews some of us did of one another a little while ago? I've just had the pleasure of interviewing jorc. Please stop by and pay her a visit. It's such a treat to learn just a little bit more about her.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

thinking

I woke to images, not words. Maybe my words will be back, later.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

morning

the moon slinks low
days waxing long
into apple-scent light
catching the dust-dance
surprised, naked light
our hair brushed with flour
tousled, tangled bright sheen
pyjamas still crumpled
sheets warm, the beds
remembering
the slow kiss of sleep

come, come to the kitchen
sun-brushed child
dapple your sleep-skin
with the ethereal crackling
light, orange and gold
where we fold and stir
the sourdough batter
for our pancakes,
fry spitting plump berries

to the garden, for handfuls
of fresh herbs, tangy chives
to cleanse the scum of sleep
from your ragged mouth,
blink crumbs out of corners
rumpled eyelashes, birdsong light
a sweet awakening
as we dig and we churn
the dark earth, fill clay jars
where our pansies hang
their mismatched faces
and strawberries delight
the child, this child

Rachel Westfall
May 14, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The chase

That mangy scratching fleabag is stalking me
again, no, again, why won’t he leave me alone?
I just know he’s caught onto my lemon scent
ripe melon-rind-crushed-lemon scent
as I bleed into the ground.

I hide downwind in a scruff of trees
hoping he’ll go some other way
but the turncoat breeze sweeps surely ‘round
betraying me and my persimmon scent
rotting red-persimmon scent
as I bleed into the ground.

Feet pounding the earth, here comes bag-of-bones
tongue lolling down, scrawny face, ratty ears
so I plunge into the raging, boiling stream
as she gives sudden birth to the spring overflow
and ice-water combs through the willow trees
scouring my hot-pepper scent
accursed sharp hot-pepper scent
as I bleed into the ground.

Rachel Westfall
May 12, 2009


For you, Christopher.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Granite

In the heart of your eye is stone

granite, flecked with mica; impassable
rough but for one corner, polished smooth
where my hand rests in its habitual way
each time I linger, caressing every moment

In the eye of your heart is stone

impervious, you thought, but see how warm,
how feral-scented it has become along the curve
where I pressed my back, curled tight naked
as a forest creature deeply burrowed

Rachel Westfall
May 11, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Crooked stories

A story slides from her crazy lips,
her crooked glasses twinkling
polyester pants pilled, all wrong.

And we lap it up.

We all want to be her, when she walks
her funky walk down the street, at least
that’s what you’d think seeing
the way we egg each other on
until one of us gets brave enough to pull up
and do a perfect mock-up from behind,
a caricature, too short and far too skinny
knock-knees over tall socks,
parody of a parody
but we all laugh anyway, raucous
‘til she shoots a look back-a-way.
Stand perfectly straight, face expressionless
wooden, suppressing giggles, wait…
for her to look away again
and move on down the street
walking her funky walk

but we all want those crooked stories
to slide from her crazy lips,
glasses twinkling, polyester pants pilled
all wrong.

Rachel Westfall
May 9, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

temptation (the language of cookies)

steam and crumble
ground nuts, flax
honey, oil, cinnamon
oats milled fine as flour
sultanas puffed pillows
sweet-heat, chocolate
slick, slippery
on the pan, dare
we dare, we dare you
to sink your teeth in,
ouch! gums on fire, skin
will hang in strands
from the roof of each
unsuspecting mouth,
so readily succumbed


Rachel Westfall
May 7, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Columbia

I'm running a fever, probably because I was up most of the night washing my son's pukey bedding and listening to him make frequent trips to the bathroom. Damn you norovirus, why do you like this boy so much?? Are you running low on cruise ship victims to torment? Here is a bit of gastrointestinal grief haiku for your entertainment, and my catharsis...

virus, get ye gone!
you are no dear friend of mine.
why not take a cruise?

Also, I worked from home today, writing a thesis-sized report, and my writing energy is pretty much drained. Maybe I'll find it in me to write something later today, or maybe not.

So here is a mouldy oldie for your reading pleasure. I wrote it after the shuttle Columbia came apart, so it has rather a grim tone, but it came from the heart. Christopher reminded me of it with his talk of astronautical journeys.

Columbia

What perspective was gained by seven
Who went above, outside, beyond
To see the earth a blue pearl beneath them
What perspective was gained?

What thoughts went through their minds
When they saw home from above
All countries one, the war machine irrelevant
What thoughts went through?

What wisdom filled their hearts
As they drifted silent, weightless, cold
Above us as we slept warm in our quilts
What wisdom filled?

What hope is there now for us
To learn what was lost
When they came down in ash rain
What hope is there now?

Why do I weep as if
It was my breast-blood-children lost
Coming home from first spirit journey
Why do I weep?

Rachel Westfall
February 1, 2003

Monday, May 4, 2009

Neurochemistry

My friend Christopher says he and I are wired differently from a lot of other people. Maybe that’s it. There must be some explanation... Others have just called me weird. Whatever it is, it seems to keep me entertained, anyway.

Neurochemistry

I woke this morning thinking in metaphor,
nothing as mundane as riddle or rhyme.
Only you understood, swung me around,
helicopter style; my toes barely brushing the grass
on each rotation, sandals skimming
the cold spring lawn. Too early for sundresses,
I wore one anyway, three stripes of yellow,
red and blue, and it whirled into
the tricolour rings of a flower
the way a bee sees them.

I woke this morning seeing in u-v.
Only you understood,
plopped me down in the dandelions
golden with pollen and bee-licked nectar,
so I could lay on my back and watch
my fuzzy-bottomed brethren
go about their business
against the hazy-blue sky.

Rachel Westfall
May 4, 2009

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Inspiration

I like to think of writer's block not as a bock, really, but rather a search for inspiration, then the words to convey what inspires us. Karen wrote a lovely piece on this just recently. Here's something that I wrote in response, thinking of how inspiration is found in some of the most everyday things, those things that are precious and dear to our hearts, but which we sometimes neglect.

And sometimes it is you
who inspires me, you;
words written scarlet
from something as simple,
as everyday-ordinary
as the way you carry yourself,
strong and unassuming;
the turn of your head,
a flash of sun-brushed cheek; or
the way the light swims mischievously
in your eyes, a golden fish
brushing the surface of
the murky pond.

Where do you go to find inspiration when you are feeling void of creative words? Most often, I find the words start to flow when I visit my neighbouring blogs...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Misery (snippet)

She roars, and where is sleep?
Hiding somewhere in a far corner
of the room, hunkered down
preparing for the storm
ears flattened, tail dropped low
between folded limbs.

If you know of a cure for childhood night terrors and sleepwalking, I'm all ears. My household hasn't slept the night through in over a year. I wanted to add more to this poem, but stalled after the first stanza... maybe it will come later, after a bit more sleep!