We stepped beyond the museum,
a sinking cabin with weeds webbing
between the splintered logs,
as though they had every right to exist;
an iron pump rusting beside a butter churn,
a pushpin thrust into the spongy ground.
This was once someone’s home.

Stones snapping beneath our shoes,
we follow a path to a river
rushing to meet us like a child
greeting a distant aunt in the hall.
Its waters are laced with cinders
sweeping over the rocks, bearded
with moss, that cluster at its banks
like lozenges under an ogre’s tongue.

There is no longing here
for the perfection of art.
The sculptors planted their roses
among the birches with papery bark
flaking off their trunks, layer
after layer, to sheath the sweet
wood pulp beneath.

Gently silenced by the trees are the cenotaphs
of a class taught at the college
at the end of the path.
They daub their shadows upon
the bent stems of grasses
capped by the hoods of the first
spring blooms sprouting their reticent heads.

A woman’s stiletto shoe is strung
with beads of garnet glass like rows
of serpent eyes, and rises
six feet toward the sky.
Stones rubbed to smoothness
bow as though in prayer—
a father and two sons who’ve
never lifted their heads.

A carved beaver pays tribute
to a lamp post so oddly out of place;
it believes it is one of the elms.
Two children ride a polar bear,
back to back, their faces
smoothed to blankness;
their sleep is purely forever.

A nude lady reclines on her pedestal,
hands tucked over her thighs,
a virgin smiling in her divinity
from a hump of limestone.
And we think the blue unfair
because they never built such monuments
to themselves.

Caroline Misner’s work has appeared in numerous publications in the USA, Canada, India and the UK. She has been nominated for the prestigious McClelland & Stewart Journey Anthology Prize for the short story “Strange Fruit”; in 2011 another short story and a poem were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives in the beautiful Haliburton Highlands of Northern Ontario where she continues to draw inspiration for her work. She is the author of the Young Adult fantasy series “The Daughters of Eldox”. Her latest novel, “The Spoon Asylum” was released in May of 2018 by Thistledown Press and was nominated by the publisher for the Governor General Award. You can view more of her work at her website: carolinemisner.com.