EXCERPTS FROM THE SHORTLIST: WENDY DONAWA

KitKats for the Blessed by Wendy Donawa

My beloved lives down the river valley
edged by escarpments wild above wolf willows
and golfclub condos.
.           Occasionally her neighbour’s garage opens
.           to an Aladdin’s cave of pastel Rubbermaids
         stacked up the walls, mitred into corners,
.           even piled on platforms pullied to the ceiling.

The neighbor peers kindly over rimless specs,
has brought us homemade Saskatoon preserves, although
her faith group prescribes stockpiled
food good only for the righteous.

.                         Come the apocalypse
all nature will surge and thunder,
obliterate the godless, while the Saved will open
their Rubbermaids for canned soup, noodles,
potato chips of bliss, KitKats of the blessed.

Sometimes we joke nervously, What if they’re right?
remembering last year’s floods
that yanked trees from their grounding, swallowed buses
like so much Lego, smashed them into bridges,
swept houses built on floodplains
into the current, like those biblical warnings
against houses built on sand.

         It’s hard to believe now;
.           the river’s sage-and-pewter shimmer
         belies its grip and drag along the continent’s spine
.           beneath a sky innocent with Magritte clouds.

But a year ago I watched as mammoth chunks of coulee
split and thundered down the cliff, smashed
the gulch, clogging the sky with dust,
rowdy as Armageddon.

And we imagine huddling by that garage door,
scratching for alms under damning torrential hail,
having long scraped out the peanut butter jar
and downed the last of the wine. Might
our neighbour feel
a faint regret
at the plop of Rubbermaid lids,
.           glug of water tank,
.                       crinkle of Miss Vickie bags,
.                                         sizzle of deep fryer, and
songs of jubilation as she waits

till the damned are washed downstream and
the cleansed world gleams green as golf courses?

 

from Thin Air of the Knowable by Wendy Donawa, shortlisted for the 2018 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
Brick Books | 2017 | 110 Page | $20.00 | Purchase online 

After three decades in Barbados as college instructor and museum curator, Wendy Donawa has returned to her birthplace on BC’s salty West Coast. Her poems have appeared in her three chapbooks and in various Canadian anthologies and poetry magazines, including Prairie Fire, Room, Freefall, Arc Poetry Magazine and Literary Review of Canada. She was a finalist in The Malahat Review’s 2013 Open Season Competition and selected for Vancouver’s 2017 Poetry in Transit project. She is a contributing editor with Arc Poetry MagazineThin Air of the Knowable, published last year by Brick Books, is her début poetry collection. It was longlisted for the 2018 Raymond Souster award and shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert award.