Home Above The Opal Hills, Jasper

wind and traffic battle
‘til wind wins, traffic
noise parked mountains
below, irrelevant roads
reduced to binocular
vision, tunnelled

the gods up here
haven’t been touched
for days

up here the wind is not
gentle—plant feet carefully
and earn the right to king
and queen this castle
this domain; hold fast and
hug these rocks of ages and
maybe we can stay awhile,
the beginnings of the earth
spiked and heaved and
born; and here
is foreground

as winds continue catching
our breath, you shout out
I can see your house from here!
and you laugh, pointing past
and over the divides of
continents, Cordilleran

you laugh, but my smile beclouds
shade, for there it is beyond
horizons, my perfectly fine
home whose benevolent doors
will again open wide soon

the heightened blare
and swish of traffic
again winning all wars,
token feet above sea level

~ Ben Murray

Ben Murray’s debut collection What We’re Left With, was published in 2007 by Brindle & Glass. He was short listed for This Magazine’s 2008 Great Canadian Literary Hunt, competed in the 2009 CBC Alberta Poetry Face-Off, and has work forthcoming in Descant and CV2. Ben calls Edmonton home, the mountains close enough to call.

“Home to me ultimately means our planet, whose welcome mat we’ve soiled and sullied to the degree that the ‘welcome’ is barely visible anymore. Alternatively, home is where my cats graciously allow me to reside as their probationary border.”

Read more of Ben Murray’s poetry:
Elk Island Park Expedition, April 2004
Finders Keepers
Sharing the Stage

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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