Carla Funk was born and raised in Vanderhoof, a small forestry and farming town at the geographical heart of British Columbia and one of the province’s earliest Mennonite settlements. She studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Victoria, and eventually switched sides of the classroom and became an instructor of writing. From 2006-2008, she served as Victoria’s inaugural poet laureate, promoting literary arts in the city. Memory, childhood, family, language, faith, imagination and the natural world are the kingdoms she happily plunders in her writing. She has published both poetry and creative nonfiction. Her previous books include The Sewing Room (Turnstone Press, 2006) and Apologetic (Turnstone Press, 2010), and her fifth book of poems, Gloryland, is forthcoming in spring 2016 with Turnstone Press.
In dark frost fields and scrawny trees,
blown-out tires shredded along the shoulder
and silhouettes of moose
on warning signs we passed,
the world blurred by
with my father at the wheel, always
my father at the wheel.
Behind him, beside him, around him,
we waited for the scenery to change,
for the city we were promised,
the one whose lights and noise
could change our minds about the future.
Flung in our wake, the junk of miles—
the plastic wrap from a pack of Export A’s,
an empty peanut tin, wads of paper towel
chucked out the driver’s window, scraps, crusts, ash.
My father’s left hand resting on the ledge,
his smoke-scrawl ethering behind.
In the rearview mirror, a crow
sailed down to the flutter of waxed paper
that held our meat and bread,
pecked at the spoils,
tasting what we tasted
It breeds in me like larvae in a pond.
I’m smiles, sweet-tongued candy angel daughter
to a face, but deep in secret chambers,
I feel the murk, the stillness of the water.
The scum-fed spawn renew their flicky swim,
and rise like microscopic bubbles speaking
me, me, me. The algal ego feeds the hatch
of volty zips and zigs, little inklings
that lick the air, taste their future element.
No need for them to break the skin, lift off
wet-winged and fly that itchy needling tune
to make their hunger real. They’re out for blood,
and will come in a whirring cloud. A plague
and pestilence. Or will come as one,
a single singing speck that seeks a host
to feed and fatten it, and let it rest
long enough to mirror itself in myriad
on some memory’s cracked reflecting pool.
For now, it brews. It eats the dark in me,
as long as no hand comes to stir the water,
as long as rain won’t bring the river back.