Weaslehead Variations


of a morning in march, immediate, as if the lichen encrusted
on cold, rough stone were the same as the beaten open bark
of trees; the last snow that huddles over the green, even
alive, moss the same as the sky; this little spot of earth,
the only voice here, the expanse, in locked land placidity


thick sheets of ice white on the waking river, thawing the
thin lines snapping, gradual for weeks over the moving water,
of ice scraping against ice, the river’s edge, there, the rocks
the vastness of its flowing isolated in caught branches, leaves, soil


mud at river bank, gully; dry on hills, plains, expectant,
alive, to widening thickets, heaviness of stones, held in
the presence of tiny footed things, birds, mice, deer, bear
and others; blown exposed to sun, wind; or rain weighted
burdened down as if itself the cause, the root, the being


but the breeze loosening their unmistakable essence, deepened
boundaries of drying yellowing grasses, unyielding wet
brown leaves in places let open to the sun, in others the
embraced layers of seven months of snow resistant
still, giving away, as in waiting for months further on


high branched rustle of crow, magpie wing against aspen
poplar, pine; song at counterpoint with blackness clash
dark, dark brown feathers, eyes, as the stain of soil, shadows
on the below valley, the pathways, suddenly flying over ice


shine toppled trees roots gesturing exposed and worn down
in the intimacy of river, wind, seasons, as the wrinkles around
a woman’s eyes are to the land itself touched tenderly,
even to the formed spaces where anchoring roots ache
in the remembered river bank soil, defying birds,
leaving footsteps venial, as if to say an eternal thing was

~ Stuart Ian McKay

Stuart Ian McKay is a member of the Writers Guild of Alberta and the League of Canadian Poets. Stele of Several Ladies – a long poem, his first book, was published in 2005. He is a two-time winner of CBC’s Alberta Anthology and in 2006 participated in CBC’s Poetry Face Off in Calgary. Stuart lives in Calgary where he is working on his second book, a cognate of prayer, a series of long poems about people with disabilities.

One Response to “Weaslehead Variations”

  1. This piece I thoroughly enjoyed. I wish I could write like this. Thanks for the read!

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