Queen's Quarterly

Queen's Quarterly
Queen's Quarterly

On the Coldest Night in Quebec

By Ken Victor


for Andrée Jalbert, 1952–2001

The small drops of moisture
on the window pane

crystallize into
a single map

leading from cold spot
to cold spot

* * *

Across the valley
the church sees the soul’s

ascent to heaven
in plumes of white smoke

rising skyward from the pulp mill
* * *

Under bright moonlight
a blanket of ice

weaves itself
stitch by white stitch

across the silent

face of the St Lawrence

* * *

Hundreds of miles apart

a man who wants his own country
and a man who has the country he wants

draw closer
to their sleeping wives

on such
human strategies

does our salvation

* * *

Orion keeping warm
runs across the sky

the one light

from the depanneur
in the village

looks like home

This poem first appeared in Queen’s Quarterly 109/4 (Winter 2002) and won a National Magazine Award.

Ken Victor’s work has appeared in numerous journals in Canada and the United States. His collection of poetry, We Were Like Everyone Else, was published this year by Cormorant Books.