Erin Emily Ann Vance – 2 poems



Valerie is dead,

cold in a taken crib.


She expires in the dentist’s chair, her back

bends, nails dragging against the wall.


Like a dog after scraps

the assistants tug at her gums.

Blood slurry and flesh decayed,


Valerie is dead.

The worms are loose in their casings,

the source of the drilling uncertain, but

she is foaming at the mouth in her coffin.


The dentist bleeds her awake and she feels the pinch deep in her jaw,

the embalming fluid jumping into her wiring.


Waxen, her teeth are bared in the moment

of ecstasy, the gassing, the sharp breath.

Like a sneezing chimera she arches, swanlike,

his hand toying with her rubber veil.


Valerie is dead

but awake

but dreaming

but dead.


She wears a glow after,

like she has fireflies cut up and stuck behind her ears.









You flick sap from your beard

and I breathe in the forest

from the crook of your arm.

You hold me like the spruce holds a moth

your boreal mouth the offshoot

of thick, honeyed air.

You sleep with your lips ajar

and in your breath I hear the whip

of the branches as they fall

the whir of the chainsaw

and your sigh, your grunt

your coaxing, your whispers

bouncing off bark like a child’s prayer

before an operation.


You sculpt her and your cuts are

ribbons on the forest floor.

You whimper in your sleep and your fingers

reach for me

sticky with the relief of trees and rough

from the ache of metal.


I’m sorry you whisper,


to the trees.






Erin Emily Ann Vance’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Contemporary Verse 2 and filling station. Erin was a 2017 recipient of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize and a 2018 Finalist for the Alberta Magazine Awards in Fiction. She will complete her MA in Creative Writing in August 2018 and begin a MA in Irish Folklore and Ethnology at University College Dublin in 2019.