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“The Stars Touch Midnight” by Jade Liu, from Arc’s 2022 Shortlist

“The Stars Touch Midnight” by Jade Liu

Arc Poster · The Stars Touch Midnight
 

 

The Stars Touch Midnight


and a daughter shudders every self into wolf.
There is always a ritual to these tales. First,
a rupture. The ribcage from the soul. Life reconstructs
like you have never known. Comfort in that

there is always a ritual to these tales. First
you will have to believe in predators
like you have never known comfort. In that
hollow between girl and forest and safety,

you will have to believe: in predators,
hunters, that which wants her will leave her
hollow. Between girl and forest and safety,
a woodsman and his axe are inseparable

hunters. That which wants her will leave her
little, red in the snow, where bootprints of
a woodsman and his axe are inseparable
from her scars. A name recited again and again:

Little Red in the snow, where bootprints of
what we were taught to pray for look identical
to her scars, a name recited again and again
to the howls of the still-living forest reaches for the nascent moon

—So exhale. Don’t look so afraid. Wasn’t it always
a rupture? The rib cage. From the soul, life reconstructs
to the howls of the still-living. Forest reaches for the nascent moon
and a daughter shudders, every self unbreaking into wolf.




NOTE: Title from Clemence Housman’s The Were-Wolf (1896).


 

Lise Rochefort on “The Stars Touch Midnight” by Jade Liu            

This poem’s skeletal Pantoum form glows in the muscular shadow of the classic, albeit slant, fairy tale of Red Riding Hood and the Werewolf legend. Refreshing and well-executed images splashed with strong colours carry the action. Great word play tempers the violence with effective and subtle insights tinged with a feminist perspective.

 


 

Jade Y. Liu is a Chinese-Canadian poet living on the unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations (Vancouver, BC). A recipient of the 2020 George McWhirter Prize in Poetry, her words are fascinated by desire, loss, the body, and cognitive metaphor.