Letter to my daughter

Clea Roberts

I. Vows

A hardscrabble climb
up the hillside,

the thin chorus
of marmots raised
by my footsteps.

If your small
brow rested
on my back
the good weight
could hold me here,

until the sun
hangs just below
the mountains,

casts light enough
to find the way home. 

II. Aperture

No aurora tonight—
but the snowflakes
are wet and tender,

admonish my eyelids,
my cheeks,
while somewhere

the moon arcs
high over the clouds,
traces the night

with an ether-skinned,
embryonic fullness. 

III. Autumn Equinox, Second Trimester

The cries of migrating geese
sufficiently plangent
to trigger your kicks.

The frost bites hard,
the potato plants
flop in astonishment.

We dig buckets
of new-skinned beets,
strip the pea vines
for the chickens.

Dusk is a place
where day and night
emulsify, conjugate
bird call, porch light.

IV. Naming

The real baby
and the imagined baby;

the real happiness,
the imagined happiness;
the real knowledge,

and the imagined knowledge—
neither complete
without the other.

There is a common
story or grief between us;
the smell of scalp,
the smell of breast.

And you
with your blue-black eyes
still only watching
the shadows
of this world

see me perhaps
as I really am,
real and imagined.

V. Linnaea Borealis

My hands
paw your lucid,
jerky limbs

with awkward
Here’s to hunger

that’s bigger
than a body.
Here’s to the fierce

petal of your tongue,
drawing down the milk.

VI. Berry Picking

This is how
it can begin.
You are fresh

as a new potato and
tucked in my coat.
My knees stained

with cranberry,
the black spruce
creaking gently,
stirred by the wind
high above.

A love so big,
I can only own
a piece of it.

My palm open
to the sky as if
to weigh the air—
its possibilities.

Clea Roberts lives in Whitehorse, Yukon on the Takhini River. Her debut collection of poems,Here Is Where We Disembark (Freehand 2010), was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award and the ReLit Award. Clea has received various fellowships and is a four-time recipient of the Yukon Government Advanced Artist Award.

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