EXCERPTS FROM THE SHORTLIST: EMILY NILSEN

 

 

In Order to Say it Exists We Must by Emily Nilsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

measure the distance
between xiphoid process
and brain, seal in Ziplocks
and send to a lab in Kentucky
then subtract or divide it from
itself. We must stalk it stealthily
on our keen kitty haunches, and smell
its odour, pungent, an unopened jar
of beaver castor. In order to say it exists
we must collect its hair, clip its fin, wing,
earlobe, capture it with our cameras, record
the audio, pixelate and play it forwards, backwards
stack it amidst layers of deep house to play
at a harvest potluck for an upbeat woodsy feel.
We braid it into our own hair, drop it into a bucket
of saline and stare for hours recording
each movement on a spreadsheet.
We give it names like Honeysuckle,
Walter, or Specimen A. Item B. Plot C.
Hold its greasy fish-oiled fur in our hands
and indicate in our Rite in the Rain notebook
that it screamed like a mountain lion
when the sun rose.

from Otolith by Emily Nilsen, shortlisted for the 2018 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
Goose Lane Editions | 2017 | 96 Page | $19.95 | Purchase online

Emily Nilsen was born and raised in Vancouver. She has published poems in PRISM International, Lake, and the Goose, and in a chapbook entitled Place, No Manual. Nilsen was a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2015, after having been longlisted for the prize on three separate occasions. Her work has also been longlisted for the UK National Poetry Prize. She lives in Nelson, British Columbia.