This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

November-December 2012

2nd place poetry: Opening the Door

Gillian Wallace

You can’t draw your knife against
the future, argue with a window
that hasn’t shut, carve fault lines
through a saint’s faint heart or stop
walls with a can of paint. Tracing the outline
of Catharina’s tired rim on the moon, you know
colliding with a galaxy, a leaf, a feud will break
the sea over your knees, swirl clouds of dust
into a stranger’s face, bring the brush strokes of black
and grey that change a street into a scroll. If you trust
the atoms in your desk to hold while you turn
a swastika into a star with your pen, the milkiness
of sky will come. Each day
is a joy you can’t control. Each day carries
its own epithet, a stroller sitting on a porch holding
groceries. Only the stars don’t move
in your lifetime. Only the stars.

Gillian Wallace has had poems published in various journals including The Antigonish Review, Room, and forthcoming in Descant. Previously, she won Arc’s Diana Brebner Prize and in 2010, she was named a Hot Ottawa Voice by Ottawa’s Tree Reading Series. She has occasionally edited her poems online at

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