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Above Lake Superior (1922)

with apologies to Lawren Harris

The artist, I would suggest, had a notion

of the future, his rendering of clouds

and gaseous mountains,

volcanic ash on fallen trees, which is a kind of snow.

Regarding the clouds sailing to infinity,

where water and land blend into one—

there is nothing we can know

with total certainty

from a portrait of nature hung on the wall.

There could be light on the distant shore,

a painted tribe of visionaries.

There could, as well, be nothing at all—

a vacant lot swirling in vapours,

or a red spark that hardened into earth,

where a single seed

several billion years of age

scutters across a desert plain.

Let’s agree on this theory, of an alternate universe:

A village clock approaches midnight.

Vibrating at a frequency

well beyond the normal range,

human widgets stare at the sky, waiting for God.

(Excerpt from my new manuscript, The Eleventh Hour (2020). Thanks to the editors of Women & Environments International Magazine: Issue 100/101, where a version of this poem was first published.)

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