Taking Strength–Zoë Landale

September smells of tomato leaves, feral
and green, and despair, which leans
on you with the hard slide

of a hillside, toppling. Despair smells of dust.
It coats your throat the way smoke from forest fires
does. Despair hurts, though you breathe

soft as the tickle of purple aster petals.
On the gravel driveway, you open
the heavy cedar gate, swing it wide

so you can drive the car out, and the land-
slide that’s your life tumbles further onto you
so you blink, walk back to your car,

limp, really, it’s that kind of day.
Your spine is a sore bone ladder.
You take strength from the big Douglas fir 

beside the gate, one of the awake ones, you’ve always felt;
it happens when trees reach four hundred years or so.
The fir holds back the weight of grey air.

Zoë Landale has published eight books, edited two books, and her work appears in around fifty anthologies. Her writing has won significant awards in three genres, including first in the Stony Brook University Short Fiction competition, National Magazine Gold for memoir, and first in the CBC Literary Competition for poetry. She taught for fifteen years as a faculty member in the Creative Writing Department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Vancouver, British Columbia. Landale’s latest book of poetry, Sigrene’s Bargain with Odin, is forthcoming with Inanna Press at York University. Most recently, she’s had poems accepted for the anthology Cascadian Zen, ed. MacWilliam, Nelson, Wirth.