Sharon Berg (Western Voices 2023)

Bio: Sharon Berg is a Canadian author working in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her work has appeared across Canada, in the USA, Mexico, the U.K., the Netherlands, India, Singapore, and Australia. She was Poetry Interviews Editor for Artisanal Writer for a year and has now placed interviews with Event and Freefall magazines. She also writes articles as well as book reviews for a variety of periodicals. Her third poetry book, ‘Stars in the Junkyard’ (Cyberwit, 2020), was a finalist in the 2022 International Book Awards and she won 2nd place in the 2016 GritLit Poetry Contest. Her cross-genre history, ‘The Name Unspoken: Wandering Spirit Survival School’ (Big Pond Rumour Press, 2019), won a 2020 IPPY Award for Regional Nonfiction. Her debut collection of short fiction, ‘Naming the Shadows’ (Porcupine's Quill, 2019) was also well received. She lives in the tiny hamlet Charlottetown, Newfoundland, Canada, in the midst of Terra Nova National Park where she runs Oceanview Writers Retreat since 2022.

A Successful Lie

When I was eight
and my sister who stayed 
in the same bedroom 
was four and loved me
 —  I loved horses madly.

I loved horses when
they galloped or cantered,
when they raised their 
head to neigh or
lay peacefully on hay.

Laying in bed sick I
wanted company dearly,
so I thought of drawing
a horse on my wall
beside my sick bed.

Satisfied when the horse 
I imagined was drawn over 
me, cuddled in my bed
and curtain-darkened room
I faced consequences.

I knew I faced trouble
if my mother thought 
I drew life-sized on my wall
so I’d drawn the horse roughly,
just well enough

to be recognized as
a horse bowing down
to communicate with me.
I faced my mother’s anger
saying my dear sister

was the one who drew it,
proven by how poorly
that horse was executed.
My mother was confused
knowing I was a better artist.

My horse companion came 
to be cloaked in regret
as I blamed my sister 
for drawing a horse 
she doesn’t even remember.      

Charlottetown, a Photograph

Clouds hang like smoke
over the hills across the bay,
echoing the fires
that took hectares of forest
this summer, further 
west of this coast.
These clouds spark no 
evacuations, signal 
nothing more harmful
than the land’s desire
for rain and lush vegetation.
Seagulls and ravens seem to
compete for attention now,
calling loudly from the shoreline
though I’m too distant to see
what concerns them.
Instead, I see dots of red and yellow
I know as the government wharf
through leaves on the aspen
that block my view.
Few boats took our harbour
from strong weather this year,
but parades of cars drove along
the road to visit the hamlet,
touring through in just a few.
Nothing is predictable here
least of all the tourists
this late in the season.
The sun begins to peak
beneath grey clouds far across
Clode Sound by Platters Island
and all falls unseemly quiet
for minutes; no waves,
no wind stirs the trees.
It seems I am looking
at a photograph, 
a moment captured
on the mind’s eye 
and gone swiftly
when a Junco lands 
on the porch railing.

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