Isobel Cunningham. Summer On The Canadian Shield


Broad rock beneath your house
the reclining body of a woman.
How many eons 
of heat and pressure formed her raised veins?

Here and there tufts of wild grasses
have taken root.
Soft patches of moss,
dark green jade
and silvery grey lichen
sit as jewels on her skin.

Grass around the house
yellow after many scorching days.
Countless rustling birch leaves
with the hot breeze of afternoon.
In the ditch sloping down from the farmer’s field
green grass and small blossoms
safe in the moisture of a hidden spring.
The silted, shadowy stream,
silent, constant, in a parched world.

The quiet, undulating land stretches out
to the far meadow,
fragrant with hay, high pale grasses.
In the shadows of a few oaks
tiny blue butterflies flutter.
They tremble
as I do when your hand
my arm.

On the white bed, in the room, cool for our rest,
under your hand
my body is shaped, formed to fit your palm,
the tips of your fingers.
Your face, eyes still closed, seeks my scent.
Sweat at my hairline,
a quick pulse where the coral bracelet clasps. 
The sap of my body
A delight under your tongue.


Mountains of Andalusia, mountains of Almeria.
You recoiled when Africa crept close.
You rose up when she nudged and nuzzled you
into row upon row of dinosaur spines
now eroding into a thousand fingers
that clutch at dried-up river beds.

Mountains of Andalusia, mountains of Almeria
Sharp silhouettes cut out and pasted flat against
your brilliant sky.
Or hazy in dust blown from the South
over the storied sea,
blown far from an African desert
to soften your rocky geometry.

Folded paper, folded fabric
undulating like a mantilla.
White villages cling to your barren breasts.
Cone peaks covered in winter
wth green clumps of scrub bushes,
yellow broom and purple thyme.
Whole slopes of winter almond blossoms
white or swooning pink.

Range upon range
snow-covered, tree-covered, brush-covered, 
bare rock, crags.
Limestone, volcanic black and brown, sedimentary rock,
 dead coral.
Calderas, ramblas,
 down down to sea pebbles.
The silent car speeds through fifty million years of geology
for a week at the beach.

Find Isobel Cunningham’s Northern Compass on Amazon

Isobel Cunningham

About the contributor

Isobel Cunningham lives in Montreal but spends summers in the Muskoka Lake District of Ontario. She writes short fiction and poetry. Her poetry has appeared in Rat's Ass Review, The Lake and Silver Birch Literary Review. Her stories have been published in Passager, Dime Show Review, Agnes and True and Montreal Writes. Her poetry book, "Northern Compass" is available on Amazon.

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