Jessica Lee McMillan




a tugboat wake zips by the playground
at the pier and the train stitches
                             tracks in metallic pitch
that commands the task of climbing the ladder
to gesture for the horn
                             resonating a colour sound
we take into months of rain 

the playground is our mediation
on park furniture
the great movers
                             with gestures to nowhere 

we are the mini red crane
—a mere god of sandbox—
whose pulley        a fist of string,
attempts sky puppetry 

                              we are luminary jars
on the merry-go-round
                              the magnetic moment
of paint on the bars
                              pigmented in the scene 

we are water molecules
in sunned puddles

we climb ropes for another height,
                              catch beams
from the Hotwheels
crashing down the slide




it's a comfort knowing
leaves come back
when life feels like
a post-home button 

leaves stoop
to my level
only when they're dying
or dead, their graveyard
my autumnal snapshots
from a phone
with no manual click
framing my kid
against her school route's
ruin of yellow 

the leaves part
from branch,
mask my automated paths,
the gentle peace makers
with eventual end 

and after drop off,
on my commute
of small deaths,
I join the trunk
of dirtiest treads
into the train's sliding doors 

when I narrow back home
our time begins
in the fall of our day
and I make each night
with my hands
before we rest 

and when the leaf blowers
drone their last note,
I drift to the maple
branches swaying,
for they are
the automation’s




I've become accustomed
to overthinking
—haven't been shrunk
by the mountains
or felt the ocean swell
pull me in a while,
haven't been tucked by
the blankets of Earth's rolling. 

The Pacific is shrinking
and on Google Maps
it can be pinched small enough
to circle me
with fiery silicates projecting
a glass rim
I can slide my licked finger
round singing. 

How may times I've frequented
the basin from Vancouver to Tokyo
and mistaken it
for a fixed frame
to manipulate, a shoreline
to memorize. 

But the Rim is a puzzle
of tectonics
and the rattling skeleton
where I flesh out its border daily. 

Its waves have the potential
to annihilate my borders—
my mental scaffolding
—to erase coasts
and extinguish the volcano
of thoughts that emit
smoke into its barrels.




Jessica Lee McMillan (she/her) is a poet and teacher with an MA in English and Creative Writing Certificate from the SFU Writer's Studio. Read her in The Humber Literary Review, Funicular Magazine, Pinhole Poetry, Rose Garden Press and Crab Creek Review, among others. She lives on the land of the Halkomelem-speaking Peoples (New Westminster, BC) with her little family and large dog.