Vancouver, British Columbia


So… unlikely: so many feet above
the lake, in ponds filled with nothing but rain
minnows are springing half a finger length
out of the water, little Gothic windows

flashing and sinking back into rings of ripples.
How did they get here? — How did any of us?
A biologist friend explains they must have climbed
the tiny streams whose dry black beds run inches deep

in spring and fall; or birds may have dropped them –
poetic beginnings, romantic but scientific.
Until she said they’d be there I never saw them.
What else lives in here? A lifetime couldn’t count them all

yet once there wasn’t a single living thing
on earth: chemicals, complex mixes, lightning, and
something began remaking itself, stubborn,
creeping like happiness across the landscape.

John Donlan is a poetry editor with Brick Books and a reference librarian at the Vancouver Public Library. His collections of poetry are Domestic Economy (Brick Books), Baysville (House of Anansi), Green Man (Ronsdale Press), and Spirit Engine (Brick Books.) See his website at


4 responses to “Vancouver, British Columbia

  1. Nice piece.

    In honour of poetry month, I’m hosting a competition between the Canadian League of Poets and Justice League of America. Round one features bill bissett vs. J’ohn J’onzz. You decide the winner by voting.

    Come check it out.

  2. Oh, the web address for this battle is:

  3. John Donlan’s “Minnows” is beautiful. With such elegance, simplicity, and music it explores the big question of how life began. This is poetry at its best, helping us marvel and wonder.

  4. Yes, the poem creeps with happiness into the heart.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s