Monday, October 16, 2023

new from above/ground press: ashes, by Marita Dachsel

Marita Dachsel

We live on the top floor of one of those big old houses
in Victoria. Our suite has a wood stove and the first few years
we lived there, we didn’t use it, as we didn’t trust our toddling
daughter, but we’ve had six winters with wood heat.
The best heat.

As a child, my autumn weekends were spent hunting.
If my parents didn’t kill an animal,
we’d get some firewood. Hours of packing and unpacking
the truck. I hated it then, but remember it fondly. That strike slip of memory.

Crisp fall air. Mint tea and liverwurst sandwiches.
The sweet scent of a fresh cut tree. Sap.
Complaining crows. Scolding squirrels.
The quiet of the forest after the roar of the chainsaw.
The cracking of breaking branches as the tree comes down.

* * *

In 2019, Andrea MacPherson invited me to the Fraser Valley Literary Festival which took place in Abbotsford, BC, on traditional, unceded Stó:lō Territories on September 13 and 14 of that year. I was commissioned to write on the theme “The Terrible and the Sublime: From Monsters to Saints” which I was to share during the panel of the same name, with panelists Doretta Lau, Jónína Kirton and Danny Ramadan. “Ashes” came from that commission.
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
October 2023
as part of above/ground press’ thirtieth anniversary
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Marita Dachsel
is the author of the poetry collections There Are Not Enough Sad Songs, Glossolalia, and All Things Said & Done. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, the Acorn-Plantos Award for People’s Poetry, and the ReLit Award. With Nancy Lee, she co-edited Sharp Notions: Essays from the Stitching Life. Her play Initiation Trilogy was nominated for both a Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Original Script and The Critics’ Choice Innovation Award. She has created interactive poetry-based installations for festivals and conferences in Victoria, Edmonton, and Toronto. She lives with her family on Lekwungen territory in Victoria, British Columbia where she teaches in UVic’s Writing Department and knits on the sly at any opportunity

This is Dachsel’s third above/ground press title, after learning to breathe (1996) and divination (2022).

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; in US, add $2; outside North America, add $5) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9. E-transfer or PayPal at rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

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