Poetry: Plate Tectonics by Tatum Taylor Chaubal

In “Plate Tectonics,” the speaker examines the vulnerability of life before meeting their lover; the rabbit-hole of fleeting thoughts that follows serves to mimic love’s illusive nature.


Plate Tectonics


You have already endured our greatest fear:
your first three-hundred-seventy-seven
days saw only one of us alive. Lover,

tell me of the world before I found it. Tell me
your milk-thick memories of the woman who
pressed oil into your soft, flat skull while I

was nowhere. Speak to me in the sounds
that surrounded your bed when my cells
were coalescing like a crystal in my mother’s

cave. This is the knowledge that divides
us. This is how one of us will survive.


We drive through Burnt Factory, less a town
than a silica plant, a landscape of stacks
and chutes. Somehow we expected more

smoldering. Later I will learn of the wool mill,
gone for two centuries; no one lives here
now. Silica workers and Grasshopper Run

and we are in passing, while the map leads
a seance for the smell of burning fleece.
Anything can be a fault line between us

and the memories of the dead, even
a name, smoking the air, then receding.


Every moment is a freckle on the clock-
face of geologic time, irrelevant to its
measure. I know this but cannot conceive

of the world before my conception. We
eat ginger cake on my birthday, cherries
are flushing ripe, the evening light

is long. The only time that matters
is pulling us apart with almost tender
slowness. We slide across each other,

cracked granite, the land rearranging
our edges. Say you feel only skin.

Tatum Taylor Chaubal

Tatum Taylor Chaubal is a writer and heritage planner/preservationist. She holds an honours degree in Creative Writing from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, and a master’s degree in Historic Preservation from Columbia University. Originally from Texas, she now lives in Ontario with her wife and cats. She has co-edited three anthologies on the histories and memories of marginalized communities in Toronto. “Plate Tectonics” is her first creative publication in adulthood. Find her on Instagram @tatumtaylorchaubal.

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