Skip to main content

Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 39 page 08



by Sara Hailstone

He looks for moss,
a moist forest floor,
she gives more, surrender,
hammer and expert fingers,
he pries spruce root from her,
she lets him,
without wincing,
without sweating,
his harvest,
a sharpened blade
trims the root
before he boils
over two hundred metres,
malleable and steaming,
he slices the root into two
flat bands, watup,
the spine of cedar,
an ideal frame,

he has already collected
enough bark, peeled
rolls during humid days,
in prayer and quiet song
he worked the spruce rope
through, in and out,
around, knotted,
wet bark sheets, like skin,
he's learned from
past cracks and fissures,
lightning bolts, scars,

there lies the bark-sheet belly,
gaping wound,
a beached whale,
he is inside prayer,
haloed and layered,
sexual abstinence,
this is the second week,
he fills the hull with
river water, thanks river,
speaks to manitou,
stones find him and
he heats them in this
canoe bath,
his silent hands insert
wooden stretchers
while the bath cools,
the hull is opened,
a skeleton
is worked in later,
he sings low to a rising sun
while applying resin,
heated spruce gum and grease,
he will re-apply this resin daily,
to keep her afloat,
she holds him lovingly
throughout his journeys,
a sacred union,
pregnant and birthing,
heartbeat and rhythm,
collective navigation.