this poem does not include
in 1997, on the spring equinox
i turn east for the land of big skies.
enough. there is no softness here for me.
i want to sing. i want to laugh.
here, it is all bent ceremony
an invisible wind
always against my shoulder.
blowing, whirling, the day
janie came walking with chuck.
anne and i had answered her call
chuck was holding her and her babies hostage
please, help, he’d gone out.
we drove over, packed them up
cleaned the place and left.
i reached into her kitchen sink
pulled the plug to drain the dirty water
look at her despair, not even able
to finish this job. but in the bottom
the ebbing water revealed
used needles among the forks and spoons.
anne made the call, jane testified.
chuck got thirty days.
yes, said my teacher, they’re
together again. he is her pusher.
i push back, walk up and get in her face
don’t ever call on me again.
this bone-stupid woman
drug-addled and wilfully
raising them in squalor and fear
gets children, though they are clearly
born victims, their brains wired wrong.
where are my children? not here.
i need to sing. i need to laugh.
but who is bone-stupid if i say
because of the work, i will stay
long seasons more, pushing against
the invisible? one night, i will realise
i cannot change this, and so
collect my ceremonial bowl
burn the last of the sage
with that valley over my shoulder now
never to forget. never to return.
it will take years to untangle
coloured threads of love and song
worth carrying, but for now at last,
tie this off, burn the ends.
and i sing, all the way home
through blue-iced mountains
shrouded in mist, i sing
at canmore, a blast of cold
mountain air slams my car in benediction
good wind, wind at my back.
i never belonged there. and that wind
stripped of poetry, is an illegal
drug trade that will claim many lives yet.
this poem does not include the beauty
what did i learn?
that, apart from this poem
i will dwell on the beauty
even in this poem, under the wind.