Sketches of a Return, February 2006

We leave the dusty city in a grey that is
more dull than boring, a drought grey
that returns me to my worst fears—
that nothing ever changes,
is as dreadful as they said it was—
like a bad hangover I try to sleep off as
the wind picks up, rocks the truck.

In half sleep, a yearning for home, for what
is known in the bones, gnaws—as visceral as the smell
of mom’s baked bread—for the soothing and familiar.
Is this familiarity something we make up or reinvent
for comfort? To heal a homesickness
rooted way, way back to the unsettling settling
of this vast land, this Last Great West?

The return comes slowly, and on the land’s terms:
in lit-up spruce tops, the dance of snow-lined branches,
tire tracks on side roads, in aspen birch poplars’
straight glossy trunks the colour of mon petit Missel cover,
in the blue-black puddled highway,
in willow bark’s finishing touches—
that old-fashioned, serious red—
a sharp balm in this wintry country.

At the Smoky River, the old jolt of abrupt fear,
of shift in landscape―
the danger of curve, of hill, of down and up,
the narrow bridge― giving in to
a vast terror we try to hide, contain,
in our flat, furrowed, snow-lined fields,
our wire-fenced quarter sections,
in power lines running along the highway.

~ Pierrette Requier

Pierrette Requier was raised in the village of Donnelly. Although she has spent most of her adult life in Alberta’s capital city, she has always remained aware of having been fundamentally influenced and formed by having lived in the large spaces of the North where her grandparents on both sides came to settle as pioneers in the Peavine Creek area. She has regularly needed to return ‘home’ to all that flat space and the boreal forest for renewal and restoration, yet thinks that there is something that remains untamed and defies naming about thisland, thus writing the land always feels tentative, almost impossible, a larger than life task. Requier has been involved in the Edmonton Stroll of Poets Society for fifteen years, as well as the Tangent Lines spoken word group. She also facilitates Wind Eye Poetry Seminars.

Leave a Reply