A Family

A crevasse is surmounted
on another winter afternoon;
quartzite, schist, gneiss

brooding again like a garrison,
exalting the great range
surrounding us. Persisting,

a cleft deepens, sun glitters
on ice, and shale undulates,
layered and obvious.

A few miles below, wild inquiry leans
into a majestic set; the deepest lake
is an enigma among these blue structures,

shimmering, beaching an old galosh,
a rusted fish hook, a tyre
of real rubber dredged in dulse.

A Baedeker’s finely drawn, fold-out panorama
diminishes our own—years through a hard
lens, the gimlet eye original.

Three of us form a pyramid and a fourth
is hoisted; a traverse of the rising
ridge ahead is attempted, cutting through

gully, rib, fang. Sunset’s long years
play a film undersea. Now our particularity
is beholden to a familiar angle.
We’ll recognize everyone, at long last.


(This poem originally appeared in Vallum 12:1 “Surrender” with the title “Family Heirlooms”)

Nyla Matuk’s first full-length collection is Sumptuary Laws (2012). Her poems have appeared in, or are forthcoming in, The Walrus, Hazlitt, Best Canadian Poetry in English 2012, Maisonneuve, New Poetries VI (Carcanet Press, 2015) and PN Review, among others. She was twice a finalist for the Walrus Poetry Prize and Sumptuary Laws was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for a best first book of poetry in Canada.

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