Standing on a Newfoundland Cliff
(Inspired by Al Purdy’s
‘Trees at the Arctic Circle’)
The breeze had changed to a robust wind,
I could feel it across my shoulders. It was rushing the clouds.
Waves below were crashing on ancient stones
that were long ago torn from the cliffs;
sea foam littered the beach.
The sky was bursting with colors I’d never seen in my life.
Mauve and cerise and splashes of charcoal
crisscrossed the sky like chalk marks left by a child.
The air felt like silver.
Wind raged around me and ripped through the tuckamore trees,
those swirling dervishes that inhabit the tops
of Newfoundland cliffs,
branches and limbs gone wild,
outliving the elements.
Tuckamores are unique to Newfoundland;
they challenge torturous storms
and the waves crashing below them;
defy the wind and its violence,
and when denied the chance to grow upward,
in an act of survival and daring,
they simply grow sideways.
I stood alone at the top of the cliff that day,
waves crashing below,
a furious wind engulfing me and the tuckamores,
and I inhaled their courage and daring.
I reclaimed a part of myself.
I devoured a piece of the cliff that day;
a taste of wildness and strength; of vastness;
of forest and storms.
Originally published in
Beyond Forgetting: Celebrating 100 Years of Al Purdy (2018)
Reprinted with the permission of the poet.