There’s loneliness here today.
Tall stems of sedge chafe on unpredictable
breezes. A month ago the bulrushes
held dark heads high above the grasses, now
they are grey and moulting. Scent of tickle,
mildew and musk ride the surly air.
No green here, only a dry, wizened brown
beneath a sky feathered in clouds, the sun
struggling to warm the earth ─
to warm me.

The one with the crooked wing
was the last to leave. Took more time
to learn how to fly. Now she has her own nest,
doesn’t come back anymore. Left us behind
to feed her rabbits, her dog, her horse, try to find uses
for four empty bedrooms that echo
girlish laughter, teen angst, Garth Brooks ─
a silent phone.

One pair of mallards still bob in the center
of the riffling gun metal surface. For this water
there is no leaving, no coming, only staying,
the accepting of more, the possibility of less. Retreat
has already begun. Maps of algae are left
burping alkaline bubbles in the shrunken muddy
edges no longer able to conceal the human humilities,
empty pop cans, beer bottles, cigarette packages,
MacDonald’s coffee cups. Hard to hide flaws
when you’re left behind and everything around
is withering. This place, this island of water
in a sea of prairie, once so alive, so vital,
so necessary, is now abandoned and superfluous.

A yellow butterfly rises up
out of the rushes, sparks my shadow,
flickers south. I follow.

~ Diane Buchanan

Diane Buchanan is a poet and essayist who learned to love the land during the last thirty-six years living on a farm on the outskirts of Edmonton. She recently moved into the city and is now missing the northern sky, sunsets, night sounds as well as her daily walks to the slough near her home. She is the author of two book of poetry; Ask Her Anything, Rowen Books, 2001 and Between the Silences, Frontenac House, 2005.

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