Daylight in the Ark

.     “Make an opening for daylight in the ark” – Genesis 6:16


We sit in the dark counting slow heartbeats
to the apocalypse. I know you are here, in

body but no spirit, heavy limbs sinking into
the tragic Ikea chair. We have done everything

two people can do to misjudge each other. We’ve
climbed unimaginable heights to drop each other’s

heart from the peak of resentment, watched it tumble –
four battered chambers, slanted to the faintly sun,

frail veins and aorta feebly afflicted down the side of
mountains named after cowardly generals, brushing

against wintery trees, gathering blue moss, beaten on
scrambled shale – an insipid organ thrashing on switchbacks

with the rage of steam in fracked rocks, stalked by flying
hawks away from their pulverized nests, racing over

sputtered streams, gushing to unknown seas, shrouded
in abandoned vessels, preserved for the museum of

our spectacular failure. No one can tell us what love is,
except the sound the question makes in a silent scream

rushing over a wound disowned by a scar, a flashing
neon sign on our shiny skin, downfallen grief only

shipwrecks know in hollowed harbors, the rote aversion
of a dark ark, counting slow heartbeats, before daylight.


A Torn Hammock on Great Slave Lake


From the glacial restraint comes
a liquid abandon, an exact science
randomly, exactly, exacting excursions
into matter excommunicated by immaterial,
too slippery for solid thought,
too rigid for moving on. Broken dead branches
mended by rugged icicles exempt from
gravity’s pull, ghosting their way under
the aurora borealis, affecting quiescent
ice-punctured shores, as memory with teeth chattering,
lies in a torn hammock on Great Slave Lake.

The deepest lake in north America is not deep
enough for angels to disappear, behold
the syntax of fear in their wings, burnt
like incense in a monastery, a clattering of
ordained terror under the halted silence
of prehistoric glaciers.
Ice summons the past and melts it to oblivion,
prowling water beneath beckons our future
for a long wintry darkness where we are
trapped, condemned to the permafrost
of loss, without the possibility of parole.


Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cemetery

.                 For Geo (2010-2013)


She is not there, our Lady of…
perpetual… helpless,
walking with salt in our pockets. Every
few slow steps a grave disposition, taut
chords of inner violins,
striking in metronomic consistency the intimate
pace of breathing light at
the edge of a young life stolen
by drunken stupor. He was the youngest
buried there…

The eyes drowse over stones scribbled
with a dense unravelling of meaning, loss
of utterances, in memory of a snowflake,
melted in a baby’s hand, redolent with laughter.

So little time to hold them and never let go,
so much space between us and them,
stones fused with earth, earth with grass,
grass with stone on earth, organic ruins
of a desire for flight…
no one ever leaves a cemetery
where a loved one lies, beneath our sole.

Perpetual time shedding skins of mourning,
death forcing us to live, eat, celebrate,
flatten the creases, turn layers of sorrow
into blankets we spread for
a picnic with our mortality.

No one speaks at cemeteries, not out of
reverence for the dead, but because
memory sits in a silent wake
to its ghostly promise, afraid that
even its ghosts may have skeletons.


Donia G. Mounsef is a Canadian-Lebanese poet, playwright and dramaturge who splits her time on either side of the Canadian Shield, between Toronto and Edmonton where she teaches theatre and poetry at the University of Alberta. She is the author of the poetry collection Plimsoll Lines (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2018) and chapbook Slant of Arils (Damaged Goods Press, 2015), and her writing has appeared in Pacific Review, The Harpoon Review, La Vague Journal, Habitat Literary Magazine, The Toronto Quarterly, Bluestem, Yes Poetry, Gutter Eloquence, Poetry Quarterly, Lavender Review, Linden Avenue, Bookends Review, Gravel Magazine, Skin 2 Skin, Iris Brown, Reverie’s Rage Anthology, and 40 Below Anthology.