The Gully by Deanna Young

It lives behind the house, it hums
and sighs. A snaking creek where willful
souls are wont to wander, die. This
is the fear. The greenish water tinged
with tears of sorry children, who did not
listen, but waded in, soiled skirts
held high. In spring, the rains, unleashed,

mob in and gush along its banks
with raucous cheer. In muddy rapids
faeries caught on rafts of matted
autumn leaves, dislodged from ice,
rush by, on their way to Uncle Hades’
parlour underground. From March
to June, a tune of drawn-out drowning

gurgles in the slaving mother’s
anxious ears. Her children, wild and deaf
as stones to sense and harsher warnings
cannot, for the love of God, be saved
from their own folly. It is a dazzling place,
a haze of simmering light on August
afternoons, and cloaked coolly in mist

October mornings. It is the universe
where I first stepped, and where I’ll go
to nestle down with worms. Though dust
by then, though bodiless, how will I
find it? How will I, formless ashes, trace
the gravel road that ends behind that house,
in that godly stream? I’ve asked my love

to take me, to shake me out in crystals
there, like salt, and only there to leave me
to dissolve—at last to quit this life I cannot solve.

 

Copyright © Deanna Young. Originally published in Reunion (Brick Books, 2018).

 

 

Photo credit: Alice Young

Deanna Young was born and grew up in Middlesex County, Ontario. Her books of poetry include Drunkard’s Path (2001) and House Dreams (2014), which was nominated for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, the Ottawa Book Award, the Archibald Lampman Award, and the ReLit Award. Reunion is her fourth book. She lives in Ottawa, where she works as an editor and teaches poetry. In 2019 she was named Ottawa’s English Poet Laureate for a two-year term.

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See the League’s 2019 Book Awards Shortlists here.