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Shortlist Saturdays: Unfinished Victorian Dream, a.k.a. Dizzy Spells by Dagne Forrest

Unfinished Victorian Dream, a.k.a. Dizzy Spells


I remember losing the horizon

and everything above it.

It doesn’t matter, you’d said,

distracted, fixing the plate

with silvered salts,

your unflinching eye.


The air astringent with salt,

the sharp blear of sea and sky,

the glass plate a page

on which the landscape

would only seem fixed,

and me within it.


Dizzy, I sank down, half-done

like the image you’d planned would be

without me standing

between dark gashes for windows

against the chalk white walls

of the lighthouse.


The bright circle of my skirts

gathered beneath me on ground

damp and cool, I opened my book,

the shape of stars in my eyes

not unlike alphabets,

the dull plash of sea far below.


Fixed here, I’m like a beacon

poised to refuse disaster.

Dagne Forrest's poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in journals in Canada, the US, Australia, and the UK. In 2021 she was one of 15 poets featured in Canada’s Poem in Your Pocket campaign. In 2023 she won first prize in the Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest run by The New Quarterly. Her first chapbook will be published by Baseline Press in 2025. She belongs to Painted Bride Quarterly's senior editorial and podcast teams. Learn more at

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