Cara Waterfall


   for Isaac

We watch the sun fall
behind the chipped blue
and white of the mountains.

Nose up against the glass,
you ask: Is this the same light
as this morning?

As frost prisms into fern
on the window, I tell you
how the noonlight
is as soft and yellow
as a burrowing owl’s pupils.

At dawn, it refracts
and scatters, until
only red dwindles
across the valleys below.

And this violet-blue fugue?
The day bowing
to the earth’s

How small life looks —
and how orderly.

The snow-pastures as placid
as the cows, whose clouds
of breath snag like scarves
on the rugged dark.

Nothing stays the same:
not the pines italicized
at dusk, nor this precipice
in the syntax of shiver;
not the mouse’s sodden nest,
nor the velour of its
wintering body.

Not your father’s desires —
nor mine.

Son, everywhere is chaos,
but don’t strip
each sunset’s script
to sinking orange
just yet.

This rectangle frames
more than air.

Let the profane sun
blast your face.

Let your nails reach
for every crag, upsetting
the scalloped snow and
breaking rock into semaphore,
blinking its ciphers.

Know you hold
all the fragments inside
like a watermark,
hewing you
into reverie’s shape
before the wet pane
of the world.

Sitting Foxtrot with Comb

     for Anna

She hoists herself from the tub
& swings her arms around my neck,
legs astride my waist,
lissome as an acrobat spiraling

around a silk rope.
Her feet sway to & fro
as she swivels her hips to my right,
bracing for another dismount

onto the toweled bed.
I perch behind her as she lowers
her head, its thin canopy of hair
whiter than clotted cream

or a fingernail’s half-moon.
Hue like my harvest of scars,
each surfeit of skin,
like one of her curls,

flaxen and gathered.
She winces as the comb snags
like caught fur, her face overcast
with a chance of glowering.

Even then she is as still
as Sunday morning. Her wisps
frizz in a labyrinth of static,
and the gooseflesh marbles her arms

in pink hills, whiskered white.
A benevolence of soap and citrus
lifts, my next tug softer —
love’s little sickle

whisking in and out of her sheaf.
As I part a divide sheening right and left,
her roots glimmer violet-gold,
each tip fair as a chickadee’s quill

or wishbone, picked clean.
Between her shoulder blades,
no wider than my palm,
I smooth each pale rapid,

pebbled by shadow.
We sit tandem, twinned
in the window, her face blurring
into its own beginning.

Ottawa-born and Costa Rica-based, Cara Waterfall’s work has been featured in Best Canadian Poetry, The Fiddlehead, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, SWWIM, Frontier Poetry and more. In 2018, she won Room’s Short Forms Contest and second place in Frontier Poetry’s Award for New Poets. In 2019, she was a finalist for Radar Poetry’s The Coniston Prize and was shortlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize. Recently, she was awarded the Editors’ Prize for PULPLit’s The Magpie Award for Poetry. She has a diploma in Poetry & Lyric Discourse from SFU’s The Writer’s Studio.

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Winter 2021