Two Poems by Tanya Standish McIntyre


Hundred-year-old maples joined in a ring 
around our house, roots grown through the wall 
of our cellar; cellar of the deep stone well, the yawling 
prisoner cat; cellar of revenants, wraiths 
and chains – stories they would tell at night to cure 
anyone of sleep. In March, up from the earth, by
some magical ancient osmosis, with the faint taste of
bananas, sap rose with steady drips, overflowing 
our galvanized buckets from a hole bored in
the pulpy layers with a red-handled bit stock.

How sealed within
a case we are, as children, before words
let us out; how dusk deepens, pressing into
the belly, as though day
would take us with it – all day I shattered
layers of pond ice with a stick, releasing
more and more to the stream, the glass music lost
and found, until I could not feel my hands.

Wood smoke wound with our syrup 
made its way west to the hills – a winter’s end 
offering to forgotten gods, who watched us 
but never intervened – gods whom 
by then, had abandoned all
of them, but me.

The Pond

A foot of black mud where the frogs
spent winters, lived at the bottom
finer than silk and grey
clay, beneath the cattails where red-winged
blackbirds perched as sentinels, guarding nests
no one ever saw, flashing their
scarlet symmetry, gliding from fencepost to fencepost
like generals surveying from the top
of each ridge, through the loom
of giant dancers, the willow’s wicker cages
sashaying to wind’s serenade to sky; the accordion
bellows of frog legs – spotted turquoise
leopards; the flighted avatars – dragonflies;
water-skimming pond-skaters
defying natural law – I want to make a raft,
drift just like Huck
through the starry marsh
marigolds at midnight, my little sister,
a loaf of bread and a string for catching
minnows; under the moon
with a long birch stick, lying in wait
for surprise, endless as summer
through the moats of cloud castles.

Tanya Standish McIntyre is a poet and visual artist based in rural Quebec, Canada. Her debut collection, The House You Are Born In, is forthcoming in McGill-Queens University Press’s Hugh MacLennan Poetry Series in December ’22. Drawing upon memories of her early years on an ancestral farm and the marking relationship with her grandfather, an early review calls it “a stunning debut by a promising new poetic voice, haunting and uplifting in equal measure.” Visit her website at

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