Peripheral Field by Frances Boyle

Those birds in hedges
leap from my sight. There, then
settled elsewhere, stitched
into green-dimpled quilting. I attend
to washing my face, measuring oatmeal
into the rolling boil.  Milk foam rises
in a metal jug.

The leap is a graceful thing,
blink and you’ll miss it as they say.
Birds, yes, and scurrying on the forest floor
fish darting to surface,
frogs and slough turtles.  Elusive
rabbits and deer, tails white dots.

Unlike the coyote who faces me
with her yellow eyes, her shoulders
hunched, front paws planted
as I, slowly, back away
                                      leave her
to yellow-green grasses, scrubby
brush, outcrops and small cliffs.

Grasshoppers and crickets
leap, the seams of their song
zigzag in heavy dry air.
The leaping of hundreds startles
prairie daylight,  earth clods
caked beneath my feet.

Days dart away as twilight creeps in.
How many have leapt from my sight,
their trails caught slantwise?
Those bright trilling evenings we thought
would go on, Kasha in her climbing tree
saying we’ll do this every day.


Copyright © Frances Boyle. Originally published in Light-carved Passages (BuschekBooks, 2014).


Frances Boyle’s debut collection of poetry is Light-carved Passages, and a second poetry book is forthcoming in 2019. Her novella, Tower, was published in 2018. Frances’s poems and short stories have received national and local awards, including the Diana Brebner Prize and The Great Canadian Literary Hunt, and appeared in anthologies and literary magazines, both print and online, throughout Canada and in the U.S. She lives in Ottawa, where she is part of the editorial team for Arc Poetry Magazine, and reviews for Canthius. Find Frances on Instagram and Twitter at @francesboyle19.

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