Rural Life

Parable of the Eagle

An eagle egg fell into a farmer’s chicken shed

and when it hatched the farmer gave it chicken feed

even though he was the king of birds. The farmer


clipped the eaglet’s princely beak and raised him

as a chicken. When he grew large, wildlife control

called on the farm. “It has the heart of an eagle,”


said the public servant. “It will fly.” And the farmer

asked, “What if he likes it here with all the chickens?”

As they spoke, the birds crept off to don disguises.


A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,

Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.

And the eyes of those two Indian ponies

Darken with kindness.

They have come gladly out of the willows

To welcome my friend and me.

We step over the barbed wire into the pasture

Where they have been grazing all day, alone.

They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness   

That we have come.

They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.

There is no loneliness like theirs.   


Only the thickness of log

and triple-paned glass

between my children and

the open maw

of a bear.


I slip warm chocolate chip

cookies from the pan

to the cooling rack -

their father loads the gun.


He fires a warning shot

from the porch

while the kids lick

the mixing bowl,


as the bear.


The conservation officer

brings a culvert trap

baited with

bacon, canned pineapple.



I triage the landscape. The prairies

are numb today and so am I.

I am too thin. Built

like I won't explode on hot

afternoons, a mirror

to the sky. My body is a hurt

where tall grasses grow, where

clouds pass, where rain sinks. It

aches where I touch

the ground. The prairies are split

into farmland locked in the control

of continuity and destruction. A plaque

of canola on my arm itches and

I want to scratch. Someday I will move

Garbage Box with Black Loons

My father's speech was slurred most of my childhood — but it's a rite

of passage for many Maritime Canadians

'cause I heard from a friend of a friend that linguists say our accent

is the result of a speech impediment, yet I don't think much

of it. My father comes from people who learned to talk

the potato into growing more potatoes — a trick

not a lot of people know.

And people who cottage here think life is very easy

and carefree. The potato money bought

On High

There was busy air there, air

seething through the leaves so,

from farther up, the tree-line shone

like a single scintillating polyhedron.


Still, though ravens and wrens flaked off the top,

the woods held, solid as a mall

or a rally or a lake — really anything

at all when seen from a ways. But


we'd waded through those branches, scraped

on brambles, toed stumps; seen

rot and bits of bone and a blue broken egg.

So while we squatted on a scaly boulder,


The Young Sun's Greeting

The young sun’s greeting

On my bed, your letter’s glow

All the sounds that burst from morning

Blackbirds’ brassy calls, jingle of gonoleks

Your smile on the grass, on the radiant dew.


In the innocent light, thousands of dragonflies

Quivering, like large black-winged golden bees

And like helicopters turning with gentle grace

On the limpid beach, gold and black the Tramiae basilares

I say the dance of Mali’s princesses.


You are the one I seek, on the path of the tiger-cats.


Here's how you make pemmican


1. wiyâs 

2. pânisâwân

3. kâhkêwak

4. yîwahikanak

5. pimîhkân


Here's how you make pemmican


1. meat

2. meat that's been sliced for drying

3. dried meat

4. pounded dried meat

5. mix with pimiy and mînisa to make pemmican


Here's how you make pemmican


Ella Josephine Campbell

Slim, slight. Sinew and bird bones.

Cords of her hands like spruce roots.

Came from Ship Cove to Crow Gulch

with little more than the child inside her,


landed in a small shack flanked by

an outhouse, train tracks. Made it work,

had to. No surviving a place like this

without some acceptance, some yield

to the blunt force of what must be done.


Lived for a dance on the weekend, game

of Bingo during the week. Draped in her

favourite sweater, blue-green swirls on black,


When the stranger bumps his shoulder into me, hard, without an ounce of concern, I can feel the fire bubbling inside of me. The heat from the concrete rising up, through my feet, reverberating like electricity about to erupt magma through every orifice of my body. Lava that will oxidize every atom and molecule of his body on contact. The city as embodied trauma. The trauma of settlement. I spin around to yell after him, letting the anger fully consume my spirit as it has so many times before. I don't know where the empowerment ends and the dissolution begins anymore.

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