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.

Partie de l’Amerique Septentrionale, 1783

Copyright Silverleaf 2015

Past Terre Neuve, around Les Milles Isles,
up into Isle Bonne Fortune,
north into the white, cold snows,
into a world of frozen oceans and rivers,
past Groenland and on
and on, into the Artique
until my hands freeze to quill,
until ink, thick, freezes in glass.

Still we press on.

Some days I wonder
how to map and chart a white land
on white sea
against white sky.
Often I dream of home,
of my office in Bordeaux,
of land and colour, hue, warmth.

And I wonder if I’m too old
to live this dream
I’m living,
if I’m too old
to traipse through this cold nightmare.

.                                           (Mr. Bonne)

Inspired by the names, both place names and the name of the cartographer, on an old map of the north that my husband recently found and had framed.