winter highway

November      we descend
from permafrost north
camp on the ice

fire on a bier
above the river
poplar logs green and sappy
snow pitted from
the flankers’ fall

all day we follow
the trucks gone before
chancing rotten ice
for tea white bread
ten-pound sacks of potatoes

fifty kilometres upriver
men detox on the trap lines
wait for the trucks to return
for their friends to come through
with rum with whiskey

all summer
the settlement has sunk into itself
feral bald-toothed

has squatted by the river
squinted blearily into
the hazy sunshinewaited for the ice

~ Jenna Butler

Jenna Butler is an educator, book reviewer, editor and poet. Her work has won a number of awards and has been widely published in literary magazines, journals and anthologies in North America and Europe. She has edited nineteen collections of poetry in Canada and England, and is currently working toward a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of East Anglia, UK. Her new collection of poems, Forcing Bloom, is scheduled for release by Mercutio Press in 2007. Butler lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband, where she is the founding editor of Rubicon Press.

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