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Valentina Cambiazo

Valentina Cambiazo was born in Santiago, Chile and has lived in Canada since the age of twelve. She has also lived in Spain, France, and the US. Her travels have taken her to eastern Canada, Chile, Mexico, and Europe. She now lives and works in Victoria, BC. Her first novel, Dark Spirit, is set in 14th century France. She is currently working on a travel memoir entitled Into the Heart of Darkness: Six Harrowing Months in the South of France.


The Garden Next Door

Diggers burrow into the lawn,
and over broken ground
robins drift
and tumble past
each other
like red-bosomed leaves.

It’s autumn.
I saw it one morning
from my
second-story window:
painted in chalk
on the long,
grassy lot next door—
the map for a new garden.

The old hedge comes down
scattering tiny sparrows;
tipped out of their homes
they chatter and flit,
nervous of their shadows.

A tree faller
dismembers a large oak.
He prods the last wedge
and stands back—
It falls hard.

A young pine
dressed in sage
takes its place,
and the stump
becomes a perch
for a hunched gargoyle.

The garden grows tendrils—
how they all reach up
while the roots grapple the soil:
nurslings, vines, bulbs,
seeds as varied
as the stars—
how it reaches up,
how it strives,
how it soaks up the sun.

Rain in the Garden Next Door

The garden in the rain:
tall cannas rise,
like Martian suns,
by the pond
in the grey light
of a heavy morning.

An abandoned rake,
a hose spiralled on the ground,
pattering birdbaths,
and every shade of green
rises in a convocation
of waves, growing deeper and higher
spilling over the fence.

And now
our barren yard
is crowned with borrowed finery:
creamy peach trumpet flowers
drape themselves over the gate
like courtesans,
while honeysuckle vines,
and scented lilies
cling to them,
the offerings of a watchful suitor.

All the greens nature ever dreamt of
lie beneath my window,
drenched and swaying
in the downpour.

All of this, I could lose:
this eagle’s nest,
this bird’s eye view,
this universe,
in the garden next door.

The End of Time

I start the last day reading the pain-wracked poetry
of two fire-churning gods
trying to live the lives of mortals
Is it safe for poet-martyrs to marry and love?

Having fed the soul,
I prepare fruit and fermented milk
to feed the body,
and go back to bed.

The dog needs bathing,
though he doesn’t know it.
He curls contentedly in a nest of furry blanket
which he nosed, and pawed, and bit
in a primal daze of instinct last night,
circling round as if tamping down a bed of leaves
in a shallow cave long ago.

I too shall bathe, and wash the linens,
admire my newly-minted desk
by the sun-washed window
with a view of the stolen garden next door;
the garden I enjoy from my second-story
without the sweat of my brow,
or ache of my body—
a gift,
and sometime tormentor of summer nights
with its trickling pond.

And so, on a sunny winter’s Sunday
I shall kiss my lover, Time, good-bye
the long languorous stretches of space
of lazy reckonings:
shall I sleep, or read, or write, or study?
To the dog, “Shall we go for a walk?”
The answer always a wagged, “Yes!”

Time, released from its straitjacket,
stretches out in luxury
until it’s done,
and is stuffed once again into the ticking box
with its alarms, and once again we take up
the swearing, and the tripping-over-shoes,
and the rushing-out-half-dressed.

The love affair was sweet,
and we shall meet again one day.


From The Schedule of Loss
by Valentina Cambiazo
© 2018 Valentina Cambiazo
Published by Ekstasis Editions