Award for New Poets, 2nd Place Winner: Heart postpartum by Cara Waterfall

We’re all very excited to share with you the winners of the 2018 Award for New Poets, selected by Victoria Chang. Today, we’re continuing with our second place winner, “Heart postpartum” by Cara Waterfall—wherein so much relies on the heart of a mother, glazed with metaphor. Our winner “The Anorexic’s Aubade” by Kirk Schlueter will be published tomorrow.

Heart Postpartum


after “Heart” by Dorianne Laux

The heart of a mother

with its uncountable chambers,

changes shape as it grows:

from bird to lyre, from hieroglyph

to billboard. The heart is a boulevard,

a book with a branch running through it.

The heart is a clock, a flock of clouds.

The heart is on curfew. The heart is

a chrysalis, a madrigal. It is dawn

spreading its gold gospel. Or the yew

overhanging the dam. It is fall’s ruby caesura

or August’s apple-haul. It is a ghazal,

a gull, a flush of macaws,

a rickshaw in the morning rush.

The heart is in iambic pentameter.

The heart is a carpenter. The heart is

a polyglot. It is measured in ingots.

Heart is milkweed and thorn,

a blond swathe of corn.

Heart is a kiln, a lamp. It is

the cicadas’ metallic chant. Heart is

a stack of postcards, a scrapyard.

Heart is the ballast. Heart is at low mast.

Heart is a pomegranate, a pickpocket,

an electric socket. Heart is a quarry, a tributary.

A magpie’s nest, lined with curios,

or a flight of arpeggios.

Heart is a string quartet, a rhapsody

in blue, a room with a view.

Heart is on strike. Heart is in transit.

Heart is tannins jewelling a wineglass.

Heart is a watermark. Heart is a zephyr.

Heart is a paperweight, a feather.

Death by metaphor,

its signature.



Cara Waterfall

Ottawa-born and Costa Rica-based, Cara’s work has been featured in EventThe Fiddlehead and The Maynard and anthologized in Sustenance: Writers from BC and Beyond on the Subject of Food. She won 2018 Room’s Short Forms contest, and was shortlisted for Freefall Magazine’s 2016 Poetry Contest and PULP Literature’s 2017 and 2018 The Magpie Award for Poetry prize. She has a London School of Journalismdiploma and completed a diploma in Poetry & Lyric Discourse with The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University. Her articles have been published in the Toronto Star, and rabble.caShe received a grant from the National Geographic Glimpse Correspondents program to write two long-form features on Côte d’Ivoire after the 2010-2011 political crisis. She works as a freelance writer and with Callia, an organization, which aims to create professional development opportunities for low-income women in Côte d’IvoireShe is the mother of two boys and a girl. 

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