Reading Gutters for Grass

By Jessica Lee McMillian

The sky is brittle paper 
on a salt-rimmed horizon,
a smog bath ring
blushing unwashed skin
of alleys,

bruised mint not cutting
garbage juice breeze
or piss in the park

but my eyes are scanning
for more than just survival,
reading the gutters for grass

brushing off grey plastic
as musty cracks in concrete
feed the earth more moss
with scraps for sight

and scent nebulized sweet 
in river algae, a trade-wind 
sucking away city char 
and exhaling perfume 
from the toasting bones
of wooden beams

in weary-of-century-homes
— front doors agape — 
dressed in a décollage
of dust matte paint 

where this baked street 
has green shade 
under its sharp tannin maple
sugaring the signs of triumph 
in such muddle


Jessica Lee McMillan is an emerging BC poet with an MA in English. She likes crooked, shiny things, and her writing explores architectures of perception, existentialism and longing in nature and music. You can find her work in A Poetry of Place: Journeys Across New Westminster, ShabdAaweg Review, RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Bewildering Stories and Pocket Lint. When not writing, doing front-line legal work or teaching, she spends time with her little family and buries herself in books and records. She writes from a charming, gritty, historical river city in British Columbia.

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