Victorian Violet Press

Once-Woman in the Inn Garden

I wear my history wrapped loose – a dress
of fog, the neckline twined with summer stars.
Elm-leaf embroidery trims its skirt; silk shoes
step carefully on thyme-grown paths. Split hearts,
fresh-opened by their lovers' knives, are hung
above my breast. Today, the beat within
has no advice to lend its distant kin.

The fabric flows, a riptide cool and wet,
where pale fish swim the folds and stir old hopes
remembered but unrealized. A twist
of ribbon - robin’s eggshell mixed with foam –
swings from the waistband. Eardrop irises
tremble above my shoulders, light as tears
that spangle eyelashes, gem endless years.

I tremble at the ocean’s edge. A breeze
along the harbour lifts my fading hair,
shakes out each swirling memory; unwreathes
my scarf and lets it fall beside a pool
where mallards drift indifferently. Beneath
this mirrored sky, I smell a pushing-up
from mud, through stem, to waterlily’s cup.

A channel buoy clangs softly on the tide.
I listen - faint as mist – concealed by rocks
and crooned to nonexistence by the gulls.
The wind chases itself and dies. My walk
is chillfoot, up the lawn to wooden chairs
where rich girls laugh. They toss no smiles at me -
but sip sweet malice with their lemon tea.

A Memorial for Advent

The bell buoys toll for Christmas. Stars are set  
in dented rings of water, when the night
encloses town and tide, a coverlet
stitched close by fishing boats bedecked with light.
My father’s ashes travel on the sea.
He rides its breakers, washed across a swell
of winter. Once my mother shook him free,
his bed lay empty as he blew and fell
into a gold kelp garden. Now, I walk
this whitened beach where driftwood cracks like bones,
while ice floes grate and scrape impassive rock.
Beyond the harbour bar, a foghorn moans.

No tears can ever calm this wrack and roar
enough for me to cry him back to shore.

Brenda Levy Tate

Brenda Levy Tate lives in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia.
She enjoys both formal and free verse and especially loves
wrestling with sonnets. Brenda's work has been published
in various venues including Triggerfish Critical Review,
Houston Panhandler, Epicenter, Soundzine, Halifax
Magazine and Contemporary American Voices. Her poetry
has been included in anthologies such as Lilith (Fortunate
Childe), Jailbreaks: 99 Canadian Sonnets (Biblioasis) and
New Classic Poems (ed. Neil McAlister). She has also won
recognition in various competitions including Winning
Writers War Poetry Contest, Poetry Superhighway,
Glimmer Train, Atlantic Writing Competition and IBPC.
Brenda has published two collections: Cleansing (Rising
Tide, 2005) and Beeline (2007, Lopside). A third poetry
book is forthcoming in 2010. Visit her at
or for samples of both writing and
nature photography. She may be heard reading her work
on YouTube under the username Silharima (BJ Tate).

Art~ Sophie Anderson