At ten feet, the white oak’s boughs begin
their reach, parse Niagara’s brow
with lines of Morse: long dash, long dash,
sky–our limbs twinned with snow
at each iamb’s incline. Designed to set,
to confound shadow like a nascent thrush,
light sweeps into the wind’s rough socket.
Our pact: to climb against winter’s rush–
mad, uncoupled–fighting the advance
of latent incantations. Such is our mutiny
less smirk than shitface grin, less stance
than having failed to plant our feet.
Rewind and we descend like ticks wrenched
away from blood, from alveolar branches.
Jim Johnstone is a Toronto-based poet, editor, and critic. His most recent books are The Essential D. G. Jones (The Porcupine’s Quill, 2016) and Dog Ear (Véhicule Press, 2014). In 2016, he was awarded Poetry’s Editors Prize for Book Reviewing.
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