Dr. Judith P. Robertson is a retired professor from the University of Ottawa who currently finds pleasure reading, writing and painting on the Southern shore of Newfoundland.


Three years ago I brought you to this place
Intent on making it our own.
Who’d want it, you said, who’d live here,
All year round, this god-forsaken stretch

Of dampened misery? And so
I took you to my bed to school you
In songs of ancient, one-word syllables:
Fog, wind, rock, rain,

Love, sea, you, me,
Letting the words roll off my tongue
In time for my tongue to roll off you.
And sure in time you learned to love

The signs of our new alphabet
Forged in a one beat rune
Of ancient syllabary, deep and good
Of skin and mouth and rhyme.


Coming here from away
She found the elsewhere that had kept her hungry
(Like a sorrow that can strangle you
Like something you can’t live without
Like something you crawl into: a second skin.)

Coming here from away
She made her garden of green fury
Conceived in impetuous desire
And pitched against flint of sea and sky.
Then for thirteen moons

Coming here from away
She threw rocks and found horseshoes
Fallen long ago from nails large enough to bear weight
Turning up like magic things in the soil,
And slowly she limbered free.

Coming here from away
From a life of high romanticism
And rigid performances, it was here
In the bellow blow and varied beat
Of a different lectern

That she learned to take new measure:
Of how metal is made malleable
And less likely to fracture
When you can slacken up to anvil and take the heat
Of a whole new world in counterpoint.


We gathered rosebuds and touched the sun,
And even the longest day of June
Felt lean against the measure of our
Confidence.  The pewter face of the moon
Languished from want of skin touching,
And the sun inhaled so morning
Would not come.  Indeed, for one whole year
The earth refused its axis turn, the better
To build our galaxies. Love comes,
Love goes.  I find the seasons difficult.
Now love lies blanketed on fields
Of frozen matter.  And though poetry’s
A trifling chapter in love’s narrative,
These words of love are all I have to give.


Hardly a day passes I don’t think of her
Younger than I am now,
Luminous and bearing down
On the wet viscosity of my imagination.
The look of her, smell of her, sound of her,
Sixty-three words turned to minutes
In Paris, an anthem to bodies
Gathering knowledge like the Seine.


Remember how this space once terrified,
And how my battered suitcase
Defied bruised paths of entry?
Well, now the lock’s sprung open
And my stall’s undone for business.
I’m not the only peddler here,
Whose sack sinks down with heavy syllables.
My case is mild, tempered with soft metaphors
To make new languages of bone.
I’m glad you said to visit here.  I like the fair
Exchanges and transactions in the air.
Come quick, dear physic – and send news!
I would that we could barter, also


Hear the plaintive cry of our son split the air
Newborn hair spiked like branches. See
The discourse of our daughter’s hair
Springing and coiled for adventure.  Smell
Your sweet hair, spilling like prairie grass,
Bent and turned upwards.  Touch
The snare of my mother’s hair and beware
That glistening turn.  Count Lear’s
Wild hairs numbering sorrow’s disaster.
Study symphonies played to a hair:
Medusa, Rapunzel, Delilah, Godiva,
Bad hair turning triumph to shame.
Read Aesop where the hare admits defeat:
Refuse that muse.

Dr. Judith P. Robertson is a retired professor from the University of Ottawa who currently finds pleasure reading, writing and painting on the Southern shore of Newfoundland.