The Tree

In wanting to re-mould this gentle tree 
(its branches danced and swayed once, elegant
though shaded all the garden’s blooming plants)
he aimed to trim and shape its crown of leaves.
Departing from sweet natural beauty
an architect’s design he sought to grant
imbued with his own flair, vision – his stamp
and an elegance almost Japanese.
But she favoured a fairy forest wild
from ancient memories of land untamed
inspired not by plans, nor tagged and named,
left free to grow like wonder in a child.
‘Tween wild and pruned a compromise was made:
sheared branches leave the sun on plants to smile.

A sonnet about garden wars for NaPoWriMo day 23 and the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.


Home is a city that doesn’t exist

In my dreams I still visit
the stories of this city.

She is a gathering of villages
grown and spread and near obsolete,
woven together
the ghosts of her founders lurk, people the shadows
of tree-dappled parks and streets
and river paths overhung with iron bridges.

I wander down the Pottery Road
where the abandoned brickworks lie crumbling
scooped into the crook of the Don River
and along the banks the Algonquin paddled
their ghosts long-since driven,
then up and down her streets again
past shops and bars and cafes like no other.

This city lives on in my memory – just dreams
built on history, fed with art and promise
no concrete jungle here, not yet,
the four seasons still colour-cycle through
her canopy, this vestige of the land’s ancient glory
lining now the roads and avenues
trails the first peoples once tread.

The pictures on all the postcards
tell of a great lake and lights twinkling
stretching away into the night
but I know her skyscrapers grow and multiply
crowding the lake-fed sky
shadowing the brick-red houses
of earlier times left behind
and I still remember the day
the tallest tower first stood
with a hundred children’s names signed to it.

In my dreams I still visit
the stories of this city.

I thought I would live my life there.




The prompt from NaPoWriMo day 16 was to fill out an “almanac questionnaire” about a specific place, real or imagined, and to then write a poem inspired by one or some of the answers. Without giving it much thought, I began answering the questions about my hometown. It didn’t take long for me to get lost down memory lane, eulogizing my favourite parts of the city. As the poem formed, I had to admit that this place I think of as home is both real and imagined – and though it’s been 23 years since I lived there, I still dream about it, still call it home.

Night Kitchen

Moonlight slivers across the kitchen floor;
an empty bottle stands sentinel
its warmth spent, diffused into reflection;
the last of the dish foam floats in hazy-softness;
alluring in the darkness,
this silent emptiness invites shadow-lingering.


Not quite about food, which was the NaPoWriMo day 6 prompt, but close.

moments in life


Weekend Orchids, Copyright Silverleaf 2016

We lay still
and the sun rose,
its light sliding,
reaching into the darkness
that hides between these walls
it lingered a moment
upon white blooms
a bird passed overhead
flickering shadows across the brightness;

The sun keeps moving,
it passes beyond the flowers
the bird flies on
but the day shimmers still
beneath the clear-blue
and we, we are swept up in life
once more.

Bridging the distance

I could hear the wind howling, howling so loudly I almost got up to see what the sound was. But I was warm and comfortable in my boy’s bed, the lights were low and I was watching his face as he read. I didn’t really want to go anywhere, not even the few feet across the room to look out the window.

I don’t remember when it was that I stopped reading to him. I remember when I started. It was before he was born. And then I resumed the first day we were let out of the hospital, when he was four days old. Other than the times he’s been punished, going to bed for a few days without a book, it has pretty much continued for the full 10 years and – what? eight months? As I said, I don’t know when it stopped. I guess it might have been somewhere around Christmas.

First we couldn’t decide on a book we both wanted to read. Then there were the few that I began and he took over on his own. Lately, he’s flown through four or five when I wasn’t looking. And that got him past needing someone to read to him. Or wanting it.

Now there’s a sort of emptiness. A space borne of the time not spent together, of night after night not cuddling up with books and blankets. I feel that emptiness as I make dinner, with him upstairs, me downstairs. I feel it when he leaves the kitchen after dinner and disappears back into his space.

Space is important, and I don’t begrudge him it, but I do feel the emptiness.

It’s not that he doesn’t want to do things together, just that he wants to do things I don’t want to (play soccer, play video games) or I want to do things he doesn’t (go for a run, look at pictures, read) or he wants to hang out when I’m making a meal, cleaning up, trying to get the things done that need doing. It’s an awkward dance – I’m ready when he’s not, he’s ready when I’m not.

Tonight though, after I had finished in the kitchen, I did play soccer with him for a bit in his room. And when it was time to lie down, to start to calm and unwind, he lay down with a book and I flopped down beside him to listen to the wind. We stayed like that for a while, him making the funny snuffling sounds he always makes when he reads, fidgeting endlessly, unable to lie still, me just watching him, ruminating, listening and watching and thinking.

When I got up to leave, he wound his arms around me and said, “I love you the most.”

My sweet boy.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll bring my book down to his room. We can create a new tradition while we lie around and read.

Bridge the distance, fill the space.

Together but separate.