Autumn commute (but also, Ireland II.)

Even at this early hour, the deep, jewel-blue of evening is already fading to night’s darker hues beyond the buildings. Still in the city’s small heart, though, the sky glows and refracts between windows, brightened by the lights from inside, the street-lamps outside.

There is a quickening, an energy as commuters move away from the centre, a flow that pulls us all along for a block or two until the shift to calm that comes with the transition to neighbourhoods.

Then it is dark, night descends quickly, a blanket sprinkled with the twinkling of porch lights. The cold wind refreshes, blows nostalgia at me through a small park; the scent of fallen leaves.

This is home. It is familiar. Canadian.

I love this about where I live – the familiarity, the nostalgia, the ease of moving around here, of knowing what to expect, season after season.

And yet, the other half of my heart continues to tug me, as it always has, toward Ireland.

Away with the birds

A silent city wilderness hides, moss-covered and leaf-whipped,
beyond glorious warm sun-glare, under deep blue, between rapids and lake;
here, otherworld creatures take hold.
Migrating bird-throngs fluttering, gathering, disperse and reform
blackbirds’ tumbling, belting cries ease city rumble
cardinal flashes ignite branches and thickets
and distant white river-flocks mimic last season’s snowdrifts.

In deeper, forest-dampered stillness
juncos, sapsuckers and nuthatches abound
chickadees gather and woodpeckers echo
and a small squinting owl
tree-peeks, half-sleeping in nest-hole.

Oh, to spend an hour and another hour still
a wild woodland morning strengthens spiritless will.


A longer-lined poem for NaPoWriMo day 27, inspired by a morning spent birding. 

Indexing History

Just as religion in religious wars
lacks the appearance of education, of equality,
anomalies in life, like chastity
and the maps and charts of marriage
are the debunkers of relationships;
in our history, we dream freely of gardens,
of sexual freedom as pleasing to icons,
and of childhood as the ideal of humanity.


For NaPoWriMo day 12, a little index poem from the book currently residing on my bedside table, Champlain’s Dream, by David Hackett Fischer.

The land I see

As I stand, river-side

and look out upon this scene –

half nature, half city –

I do not see metal girders 

or construction machines,

I do not see concrete, glass or neon signs.

I see a land of trees stretching out through time,

I see waterfalls and river,

snowy hills and sky.

I see a time before time counted,

a land before we touched it. 


Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Ottawa War Memorial, source:

A gathering, milling crowd of expectation swells,
turns, waits, checks the time,
is blown silent by the November breeze.

In the distance,
the faint sound of trumpets, drums,
and then the marchers come;
crisp navy and gleaming black,
pristine white and tartaned,
poppy-adorned and medalioned.
All in unison they march,
come to attention,
then march on again to the drum beat
(heart beat)
with clacking heels and twirling, swirling kilts and crisp-pressed pants.
The thrilling trills of ancient bagpipes fill our ears,
fill the air, fill the spaces in between.
That deep-in-your-heart boom of the bass drum
cuts below and through the tunes as they pass
as they glow and flash –
red and white.

When the drums and pipes and footsteps cease
a lone bugle takes up the call,
guns fire and jets roar overhead –
a reminder –
as all eyes turn skyward.

We, the audience, stand proud,
hold the silence,
cheer soldiers and peacekeepers who stood guard
then and now,
breathe deeply, hearts swelling.

And we Remember.