Gillian Wallace graduated from the Humber School for Writers having first completed a PhD with a thesis on original sin. Her poems have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Arc, Ottawa Arts Review, ottawater, Room Magazine, and elsewhere. In 2009, she won the Diana Brebner Prize for Poetryfrom Arc. While editing her first novel yet again, she moonlights as copyeditor for The Canadian Geographer and writes and edits a poem a day. She lives in Ottawa and you can find her at gillianwallace.ca.
for J. R. Carpenter
The ancient monks did it, dipping
quills into colours that still
glow around the edges
of their words, angels hovering
above townspeople in their markets
a baby crying, a donkey carrying
bread on the next golden
page. Even the first letter
of a poem could be a serpent
unto itself, coiled with the gleam
of mis-spent life, a warning
to readers of what lies
ahead. Ah but those pictures
were for the ignorant,
a friend says, images to carry
what words couldn't. No
matter. The two together
are lovelier than this page.
I make a list of rooms I like:
your front room in the morning,
the sun forming a halo, promising
light forever, warmth without end.
I don't need the full Gospel Hall
at a time like this, just the heaviness
of a mug weighing me down, tea
offering Communion before
My next favourite is opposite and south,
away from you, into the city you left.
Carla's house. Her bathroom
to be precise. The quietness of a closed
door, whiteness of porcelain, walls.
And while I sit in contemplation (not after days
of them, this is not a letter of complaint),
a blue blue sky sliced by the bareness
of branches draws me up, away. It's all I ask for
these other times. All of you
then none. The silence of tree.