'Night Skating' is a poem by Toronto-based poet, Julia DaSilva about coming to understand what at first is a very isolating pain as a collective experience with a collective history of resistance.
You try jumps: two legs,
one, instinctive, easy to name,
noun plus trix. There is room, here,
in the wide icy nighttime stretches between
couples on winter dates to remember
to swing your arms, use your body,
to fall. To fill every frozen canal dug
inside and through and to you and to imagine
teaching someone who told you she’d never learned
how to skate them.
Like this, you would say, and through you
the liberatrix speaks:
oh I gobbled this year like
church bells, the candy world feel
of upward torn constraints
we all another wrapper
convention the word “psychedelic."
As the pair glides past their blades slice
red-cheeked mittened laughing
through the clumsy curves of your trail. You wonder
if they are a couple or just
friends, you are iced again with hope,
and the progenitrix:
not only the history
but also the history
one part high tragedy.
You hit a knob of ice, crash, wonder
how many more falls your knees can take,
perfecting this this one figure.
Whispers the sequestratrix:
or a training school
explore creative derangement
in a dusty rental—of course it is
that shop left us stranded closed
our friend skateless.
It’s a short hobble to the top
of the bridge where you pine with
overtones of immorality. You unlace, fearing
loose ankles, adjust and fling yourself farther
from Sappho to mescaline cacti
diagnosis policy problem
But with every glide you lose your grip
on your shape a little more,
bits of ice flake away to reveal
strata of white dust and sand,
breakthroughs have been distorted
because no one writes
we were a person once a problem
isn’t that the point?
Until you want to moss
with the pink flowers pine-barrens might blush
on sandy evergreens far away,
hold onto the last ice-dust traces
below your skin, let yourself be
a shadow of the names that polished the way,
dramatic evidence that
magic under-skin unrest even
pantomime downplay the riot
Emerging from the lake you grub for alternate
meanings of “witch,”
skate past a mountain ash and
see how long it’s been ash—just you:
we draw on botany,
its disreputable roots,
You are not alone on the canal but
it’s too late to be out alone.
There is pain here,
recognizable as a box.
Julia DaSilva completed her undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Literature & Critical Theory at the University of Toronto. Her poetry has appeared in Eclectica, Rat’s Ass Review, Lychee Rind zine, Cathexis, Sapphic Writers Collective, Half A Grapefruit, High Shelf Press, Wingless Dreamer, and Reckoning, the University of Toronto journals The Spectatorial, The Strand, Hardwire, and The Voice, as well as upcoming issues of Storm of Blue Press
Magazine, White Wall Review, and Ariel’s Dream.
She is a guest in Tkaronto/Toronto on
Dish With One Spoon territory, and writes fantasy as well as poetry, with a novel and a
collection of short stories in progress and a particular interest in the politics of magic systems.
Her writing is informed by her work in climate justice organizing, and explores questions of
political responsibility, love at the end of the world, and re-enchantment directed towards