Author Archives: Virginia Boudreau

Virginia Boudreau

About Virginia Boudreau

Virginia Boudreau is a retired teacher living on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. She can often be found at the beach. Her poetry and prose have appeared in a wide variety of international literary magazines and anthologies, both in print and online. Most recent work has been published in The New York Times (Solver’s Column), Woods Reader, Salt and Wild Anthology, Agnes and True, Grain, The New Quarterly, and Palette Poetry. She recently completed her first poetry manuscript, twenty years later than planned.

The Oriole

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Beyond lit panes, a flimsy fragile feathered thing
wavers on the highest bough, her scant weight teetering

above a paisley floor stippled with shadow and trembling
light. The bird trills as though her heart will fly

through gilded ribs of a gold chest, shatter
like a wave on a stony shore: wide open.

In here, the news stories flip by, tired cards thumbed
on an old Rolodex file. So quick, so awful I can hardly bear

view or listen. Now I’m watching the grizzled
trees in northern BC, scarecrow effigies ignited. Flames

scissor and smoke cuts a warning cloud in the tarnished
muslin sky. I imagine the elk frantic, the rabbits frenzied

and turn it off before the next reel can take hold. Through
the open window the ethereal lilting chords pour hymn

notes, rising to dusk’s flannel rafters. Don’t ask me why
I picture the listing Titanic: the brave orchestra playing, focused

and dogged. I see icy water breaching the deck, black
all-seeing portholes sobbing into a frozen sea. I watch it curling

back in a raging wave swollen with the last lost melodies. All that
remains is the waiting, the burst of flotsam on a distant dissolving shore.

Photograph by Sara Harley showing a building submerged in water and one bird flying overhead.

Rising by Sara Harley

Practice / Spirals

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Practice

The lump rises innocuous from pale flesh just below
your collarbone. A gentle swell, almond shaped, firm
but not hard. You insist I touch it, want me to feel proof
that it’s real. I can’t refuse, you ask for so little.

I search for words, find none and cannot remember those
that used to be there. It doesn’t matter, quiet is soothing and
somehow, enough. Robins sing and we can see your humming
birds flicker at the feeder, this foggy July morning.

Next, you lead me up carpeted stairs, fling louvered doors,
and start sorting through orderly closets, without hesitation,
as though you’ve done this many times before. We even laugh
as you remember the soft pink dress that was almost too pretty

to wear. I hold out my arms, you pile garments in jewel colours
for the clothing donation bin in the mall parking lot.
Later I make tea, yours like dishwater, and mine strong and
so bitter I can barely swallow it. You sink into your favorite chair,
a faded Magic Bag pressed to the small of your back, wheeze,

“A good job done,” and I agree as I pass the dainty mug patterned
with fruit that matches your kitchen wallpaper. I try but fail
to filter the sound in my head. It is the beginning of your breathlessness,
the sound that leads to the swish and gurgle of bedside pumps,

IV poles and oxygen masks, morning visits with Sobeys bags full of clean
underthings and familiar whimsies from your bedside table. I try harder,
ignore the images: “Thinking of You” cards, helium balloons, and
all those bouquets of roses, their silky petals, red as blood,

drifting to the sill.

She Tried to Put a Brave Face On It by Leah Dockrill

Spirals

On the day of your leaving I studied
the tangled spruce in the yard, all
leeched marrow and trails of glistening,

dark as blood. Withered fists unfurled,
dropped aborted cones into an obscene graffiti
of closed eyes on the ground while I played

the unwilling voyeur, watching blind
fetuses expel from a womb weary of holding on.
I am not this way!

I wanted to shout the words but
my voice had become a smoky sky:
nothing good could come of it.

How can it all funnel down to this? Spirals
on a tree trunk, whorls on a thumb pad,
cartography of an infant’s palm and

the knowing: ingrained and awful.
We can never go back; not really.

I searched in vain for a supple, lively flicker
in leaves, hoping to discern the persistent warble
of a brave, unwavering song.

Just Wondering

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Upcycled Bunnykins necklace by Diane Redden

Upcycled Bunnykins necklace by Diane Redden

for Alex

The day you turned eighteen
snow froze to the ground,
a patchwork of chipped
ice and sienna grass.
Ditches gleamed and clouds
cracked to reveal shafts of wan
sun, pouring bitter lemon light.

Your words fell like snow, soft and cold.
They penetrated my skin.
“I won’t be home for my birthday next year,
will I, mom?”

I remember looking through
the bay window, seeing black
branches upon pearled sky
a raft of sparrow shadows and
the weeping mulberry
dripping icy tears

So much pride in you, but always
the burrowing sorrow, too.
I need to know:
what is the particular price
of a truth spent,

when extracted currency
is the viscera of letting go?