Our Promised Land

The old country, we call Saskatchewan—
Alberta’s fraternal twin. I’m going home, we say
on holiday weekends, vehicles racing east
on the Yellowhead like horses headed for the barn.
Like so many other transplants to this province,
we cling to our roots, yet wouldn’t want to move back
to places that can no longer sustain us.
We’ve been seduced by ski runs, pump jacks,
no sales tax, the way early settlers were enticed
by the promise of land. Alberta has become
our promised land—the grass greener
on this side of an imaginary line.

~ Shirley A. Serviss

Shirley A. Serviss was the 2008-2009 Writer is Residence for the Canadian Authors Association Alberta Branch. She has published three poetry collections, Model Families, Reading Between the Lines and Hitchhiking in the Hospital. She is active in the Edmonton literary community, giving readings, teaching writing and working part-time as an Artist on the Wards for the Friends of University Hospitals.

“For a long time home meant where I grew up. To some extent it still does, although that home, as I knew it, exists only in memory. After living in Edmonton for 30 years, home has come to mean this city. I feel very connected to community here. Home is more than the place; it is also the people.”

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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