Three Poems by Ashley-Elizabeth Best


Leaving Alberta

I leave Alberta under the bow of a full moon, take in the skeletal scatter of trees,
their scrubby bodies hung low. Friable clouds exculpated the dangerous open of
the prairies, I do not relish a treeless landscape. The bus pulls in under the neon of
a gas station sign, bobs a greeting with its great length.

A woman sobs tragic under the sententious glare of the driver. Her drunken arms
hug empty under her breasts like she can reach in, and sidle in the ridges of veins,
the full gambit of life’s tread visible upon her graded body, a record of a woman in
last rank.

I shelter in the clouds: their trapeze act signals  spring in Manitoba. The earth is a
muddied spread. I have learned a lot about the sky here in the  middle of the

The sky shies away from the gas station, the veined ornamentation, ladies as
fanciful as throw pillows, the asymmetrical form of the building’s body, rococo at
its worst.

Memory is a kind of hoax, yet I pull it close and watch the passing stands of trees.
The birch bark has furled, unsteady in the wind, pre-manuscript, the margins
buckled at its aged gutter.


Old Ontario

I led you to the country
by the hand,
old Ontario, flushed, real,
edged by settler-planted
your careless hand, the index
finger wart, our better ways of stalling.

Your eyes find among the trees
graves uncomfortably hill-perched.

There, the church one of mine built,
there the school.

The evening’s coming down,
lousy conjurer of shadows,
echoes of the sky.

Various greens thirst under
the blue moon, our intent
cold under the night’s glare.

We’re the stranger’s descendants
returned, sounding the healing silence.


The Still

In our backyard, the birds
dropped dead from the heat,
spread out like a scattershot of kisses.

Our eyes try to pull the cloud’s hover down.

Their puffed bodies like freshly ripened apples,
unrest cause for more unrest.

Their final fall, their blossomed bulk,
this fractured blessing, the charred silence
hedges deep.

About the Author:

Ashley-Elizabeth Best is a Canadian poet.