Register Sunday | June 16 | 2019

QAUSUITTUQ*

Third-Place Winner of Maisonneuve's Blackout Contest

*Inuktitut name for the settlement of Resolute Bay, Nunavut, located at approximately 75 degrees N. Literally translated, it means “place with no dawn.”

1. A BLIZZARD

On Wednesday of the dying sun’s last week,
A blizzard struck and stunned us for three solid
Days. Wind whipped and stripped the ground
Of all the autumn’s fallen snow, swirled it up

And twirled it round till all was white
At stroke of noon, black and bitten
The day-long night. Storm-stayed, huddled
In our rattled shack, we held up

Tin and plywood walls with nerves,
Wore the carpet down with pacing, picked up
Static shocks at every touch and turn, bemoaned
The tempest’s knockout punch to our TV.

Day three, the wind let up. Beyond the window’s
Dark frost-flecked glass: calm and clear and cold.


2. SOLSTICE REPORT

Dark is dark. This day, the would be
Darkest, is no darker than yesterday,
Last week, next month. There’s been no glimmer

Since I came again, not the slightest horizontal shimmer.
In thousand candled altarlight, I
Grow steadily slimmer and dimmer.


3. COMPOSE IN DARKNESS
(Seamus Heaney, “North”)

A compelling command, I suppose,
If you’re in the position
Of comfortably conjuring Norse
Ghosts, straying, but not staying, North.

But if you’ve really made the long foray
Into Qausuittuq, you’ve no choice—decomposing’s
Not even an option. We stopped expecting
Aurora Borealis some months ago.

And we burned all our metaphors
To stay warm.


4. SCHEDULED POWER OUTAGE
(A FUGUE FOR TWO VOICES)

The moon hides behind
A signal hill that looms
Above a blacked out town giving up
Ghosts to a decanted night—

recant! decamp!
the eviction note’s posted,
the mine’s a shafted stack of bones,
the marrow’s all been eaten—
retreat! pull out!
leave the land, abandon
your houses to foxes, they’ll make
good use of the copper—

The moon, a zinc disc hammer-
Tossed & battered spins higher; lights
Wink on in the place with no dawn;
The ghosts are but chimneysmoke—

you may go on
pretending you belong.


5. EVEN DARKNESS WHICH MAY BE FELT

Bushed, whacked out on blackness,
we giggle stupid at nothing—
—ALL THE NOTHING engulfed
in a creaky silence
that generates foxes.
The wind talks at us
through the shifting roof—

—we stretch forth our hands
and listen.


6. FIAT LUX

and then there was light
finally
as the truant sun sneaked
above the southeast hills
began its kittycorner
shortcut
to the southwest

it is the breaking
of a fast

which deprived eyes reject
as a starved stomach would
a long awaited meal

its abbreviated rise
keeps it shining in our eyes
so we curse it
as violently
and uselessly
as we did
the darkness


7. LETTER HOME FROM THE FAR REACHES

It’s weeks since steel last touched
my face with its sharp stainless edge.
I am growing wild.
It’s weeks since you last touched my face.

To read the winning entry in Maisonneuve's Blackout Contest, check out issue 12, on newsstands November 12. For information about our current contest, click here.