(from Winter Devotional)

I stood on the harbourwall in April,
looking down at the clubs of bull-kelp on your surface,
and their broken whips hanging behind them.
On the bottom, barnacled riprap

shored up the wall, blotched with rockweed.
Then your surface bulged, tearing the yachts
from their wharves, breaking the wharves
loose from their pilings. Charged with silt,

you climbed the seawall’s face, and rolled overtop
in muddy pleats. You slicked our streets
with long black tongues. Still swelling, you poured
through concrete buildings, sluicing-out down-stream windows

like stormflow through a grate. Above the waterline,
bank-towers rocked back and forth.
As the steel in the towers shifted,
their trapped windowpanes whimpered and keened.

Carried inland by you, fishing boats
slid rudderless between those complaining mirrors,
and gulls kited overhead, their images
multiplied from building to building. After dark,

tide-rows of burning debris played their flames
on the standing water like candles
on volcanic glass. When the eastern sky paled
you seeped back towards the coast,

leaving neighborhoods half buried in black mud.
Spawned by the force of your retreat,
huge whirl-pools spun beside
the shoreline like the eyes of baffled gods.


Daniel Cowper is a poet and writer from an island off the coast of British Columbia. His poetry has appeared in various literary publications, including Prairie Fire, the Literary Review of Canada, the Dalhousie Review, and Contemporary Verse 2. He is currently working on a poem sequence called ‘Winter Devotional’, and a novel about a love triangle tentatively entitled ‘Owl, Heron, Wren’.

To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.