Frontier Diaries

by Claire Caldwell

Claire Caldwell is a poet from Toronto, where she also edits Harlequin romance novels. She was a 2016 writer-in-residence at the Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon, and was the 2013 winner of The Malahat Review’s Long Poem Prize. Claire’s first collection of poems, Invasive Species, was published by Wolsak and Wynn in 2014.

 

A suite of erasures based on the personal accounts of homesteading women, 1867–2016

 

Labour

I will always be here.
I gave birth to a home.
My choices are lumps
in my throat:
second daughter,
sleep, start pushing.
A gap in attention.
Beans for years.

Ascent

The mountain advanced.
I shed my corsets.
Soon, I was panting.
On, on, on, on.
Don’t look down.
Throbbing, hungry,
fire in a deep snow.

Winter

I was flannel-lined,
fur-trimmed
and chattering.
Sparrows hung
above the mess hall.
Seven women
promptly moved
to Toronto
for recalibration.
An emergency
contingent of huskies
seemed to sing
of white gasoline.

Growth

The idea of building a husband
broke in February. By October,
he was warm. For comparison,
our neighbour is growing children,
and we hope to begin work
on a solar system. For now,
our tiny home is full.

Holiday

Christmas did happen.
Cameron and Ted,
one Gary, Joan. The kids give
or take. This tradition hurt,
but I was standing.
I’m his mother.
I love cinnamon.
Today my joy is better,
I think.

Theft

One day, I vanished.
Was it Camp Robber,
the child, the baby’s
closest friend?
Wolf or grandfather?
Long-haired willow,
canine teeth
behind our cabin—
Impossible.
I could not venture
outside the house.

Faith

This season
is a white church,
and my hair
will get in all the crevices.
I resign myself
to a pale adventure.
Real housewives
remember every reason
to be alive.

 Father

God of mischief.
God waiting upstairs.
Buckling, shaking,
quivering God.
God of ladies
who never prepare.
God is a total mess.
He wants cheese
and wool and pie.
Every woman
creates God
with her hands.

Luxuries

Sometimes the grouse
were shooting stars.
Sometimes drowsy.
The lake a guitar
piled with oilskins,
rain a tall evergreen
or a fur robe.
I contained a canyon
of roaring horses
and a small tent
for rest.

 


Claire Caldwell is a poet from Toronto, where she also edits Harlequin romance novels. She was a 2016 writer-in-residence at the Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon, and was the 2013 winner of The Malahat Review’s Long Poem Prize. Claire’s first collection of poems, Invasive Species, was published by Wolsak and Wynn in 2014.

☝ BACK TO TOP