Ella Josephine Campbell

Douglas Walbourne-Gough

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Slim, slight. Sinew and bird bones.

Cords of her hands like spruce roots.

Came from Ship Cove to Crow Gulch

with little more than the child inside her,

 

landed in a small shack flanked by

an outhouse, train tracks. Made it work,

had to. No surviving a place like this

without some acceptance, some yield

to the blunt force of what must be done.

 

Lived for a dance on the weekend, game

of Bingo during the week. Draped in her

favourite sweater, blue-green swirls on black,

three times her size. Costume pearls, earrings

to match. Heading to the Palace, all tobacco

 

smoke and last week’s gossip. Nights she won,

she dropped by the Padarnac Lounge to chat

with her brothers, a quick rum ’n’ coke —

warms the blood for the walk home.

 

Get her in the woods, she was all business.

Frantic flick of the rod whipping the hackle off

the fly long before trout ever could. Peals

of laughter against the far shore. No smooth arcs

or figure-eight false casts, just enough line

in the water to get wet. A woman most at home

without ceilings, without walls.

"Ella Josephine Campbell" was originally published in Crow Gulch copyright © 2019 by Douglas Walbourne-Gough. Reproduced by permission of Goose Lane Editions.