Carla Barkman | LAST EVENING I STUMBLED, 2nd Place Winner of the Vallum Award for Poetry


Last evening I stumbled
past smokers in doorways
of boarding houses,
ex-sailorsā€™ rooming houses
beside the inland sea,
& up the gravel road again
towards the lighthouse poised
between two harbours
now its panning light engulfed
by Christmas strings of orange
& white, & sat still
on a Muskoka chair,
its pair beside me empty
thinkingā€”I should smoke
& reference youā€”but rather
just sat still, my boots & cushioned legs
in a feather bed of snow,
& pointed out the constellations
that I knew: Orionā€™s belt,
Big Dipper & way up there
the Little Dipper tinier than I recalled
& the waves dark blue
& the shipsā€™ bells
& the light swooping round
over my silent hill,
not stretching out my arms
to make snow angels,
not speaking or listening,
turning or even picturing you
in that white wooden chair.


Author’s Bio

CARLA BARKMAN graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1999 with an MD and BSc (Med). She completed a residency at the University of Manitoba in 2002, and has since practiced family medicine in northwestern Ontario and Saskatchewan. Her poetry has been published in Grain, CV2 and other journals, and in Groundswell: the best of above/ground press 1993-2003, under the name Carla Milo. Several of her poems recently appeared in ditch, an online journal.