Poetry: Zachariah Wells

Dream Vision of the Flood

I must build this house, I must
build this house high on the hill
on borrowed cash, I must build it
now, bring with me all books
worth saving: I dreamed the end
last night, dreamed this three-countied

Island’s borders redrawn
by water, green archipelagos of stranded
holsteins on high ground, lowing at insidious
inundation, the mainland bridge
a beheaded, bobtailed leviathan arched
in Northumberland, whose waters, with the Gulf’s,

engorged oxbowed rivers, glutted
ponds into rust-red lakes, filled our hardwrought
valley, a tub with plugged drains,
slowly, while we molded contours of mud, heaping
wet red earth like the swallows under our eaves,
in vain—only the chimneys left when it settled,

perches for cormorants drying spread wings in the sun.

Water Works

Forty-some paces into the Gulf
you’ll find the work of forty-odd years:
rings of rock that once cased cottage wells
where dwellers drew fresh water, sunk now
in the salt swell and swum around
by fishes. We get smaller year by
year. The breaks we build to brake our shrinkage—
riprap and seawalls, baskets of stone—
only make things worse: they make the patient
ocean more resourceful. Gone Panmure
Island’s marram-anchored dunes. Gone the wharves
of Basin Head. Gone the elephant-
shaped rock whose feet we shod in concrete
to keep him for the tourists.

* Both of these poems were originally published in Track & Trace, Biblioasis, 2009.

Zachariah Wells was born and raised on Prince Edward Island, Canada, and since the age of 15 has lived in Ottawa, Halifax, Montréal and Vancouver. From 1996 to 2003, he travelled back and forth between the territory of Nunavut and southern Canada, working as an airline cargo handler and agent. He now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and works for VIA Rail as a service attendant and for himself as a freelance writer and editor. He is also a contributing editor at Canadian Notes & Queries.