Claire Caldwell is a poet from Toronto, where she also edits Harlequin romances and runs poetry workshops for kids. Her first collection, Invasive Species, was one of the National Post's top five poetry books of 2014. Claire was the 2013 winner of the Malahat Review's long poem prize, and she is a graduate of the University of Guelph's MFA program.






The summer we rowed across the North Pole, a python
traveled two thousand miles by duffel bag. 

A spy novelist survived a tornado, burrowed
in carnival plush – pink gorilla, encephalitic chick. 

A solo hiker in Oregon read Thoreau on her iPad. 
A newborn spark winked on a neighbouring ridge. 

We'd taken every precaution. Still, we disagreed
about polar bears. The tundra sucked at our boots. 

In Italy, a slot machine reel spun in the wreck
of a cruise ship. The diver's headlight was snuffed 

by a squid. The wonder of machinery was its failure
and its refusal to fail. The decompression chamber, at least, 

had wifi. We learned the python had escaped
via air vent. When a new cloud was identified

in the Maritimes, our suspicions bloomed. 
Even the Arctic, we knew, had seasons. 

Water lisped at the gunwales. Our paddles leaned
into winter. The yellow smear in the distance receded. 


Excerpt from Invasive Species (Wolsak & Wynn) © Claire Caldwell 2014