South to North Saskatchewan

the way i have traveled,
moving far away, then back to the roots.
born under sky and cold,
i wandered to French speaking places,
dreamed near ocean until it broke me.

crawled back,
limbs exhausted,
fingers buried down deep
in the dirt,
clinging to the prairies.

as a child,
i lost myself
near the south Saskatchewan,
wandered through fallen leaves.

years later,
i find solace in a river with a similar name,
a river valley,
warm blanket of sky.

~ Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her years in Alberta have included stints in Wainwright, Grande Prairie and Edmonton. Alexis is a poet, fiction writer and journalist and the author of She Dreams in Red (Frontenac House; 2007).

“My poem was inspired by my many moves over the years. I grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which is built around the South Saskatchewan river. I currently live in Edmonton, which is built around the North Saskatchewan river. Both of these cities share similarities and I had a sense of familiarity when I took up residence in Edmonton. I really enjoy the river valley in both locations and wanted to celebrate the river through poetry. There are also references to some of the other places I have lived at the beginning of this poem.”

Read more of Alexis Kienlen’s poetry:
the old indian and the coat
portrait of the poet

Editor’s note: This poem is from Home and Away – a sequel to the bestselling Writing the Land (2007). Look for one poet to be featured each day as Alberta poets ponder the question “what is home?” and explore our complex relationship with working on, living with, exploiting and protecting our land and our home. For more information about the project, click here.

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