A Warning Call

Gabriela Halas


There was a day when I spoke

to your face & it stayed dark

                because it was dark.

Not this technological gleam

that partitions you. Trades one corner

of sacred ground

for the other.


The soft continents of baby’s

skull, still

                split, was tended by oiled silk

sheared from life

                —the bleating in living throats—


The sound could have been a warning call.


What now covers her skull

arrives from the drill,

the revenue of war,

unearthed as ink. Drape the slick

                mess, watch it stain her new flesh.


There was a day when fresh cut

flowers came from the garden

                or not at all.

Their heads drooped as the sun did

                behind layers &


     of horizon.


In earth’s cool sanctuary

a watercolor caress on the skin

of all things

                —the secret blood

in a bulk of beets lasted—

until they did not.


And so, you bring flowers. Offer color

as seasons remain unsure of themselves.

I bite the globe-toned fruit

offered by your hand, tended magic of chemistry.

I am grateful for the memory of flesh,

peel of the once living

                                                 from the dead.





Gabriela Halas (she/her) immigrated to Canada during the early 1980s, grew up in northern Alberta, lived in Alaska for seven years, and currently resides in B.C. She has published poetry in a variety of literary journals including About Place Journal, Prairie Fire, december magazine, Rock & Sling, The Louisville Review, The Hopper, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, among others; fiction in The Hopper, subTerrain and Broken Pencil; nonfiction in untethered magazine, Grain, Pilgrimage, and High Country News. She has received two Best of the Net nominations in poetry (2020). She lives and writes on traditional Ktunaxa Nation land.