That not-quite-autumn evening,
the day after she came to us,
we were called to a neighbour’s yard
to witness a rare and wondrous city sight,
a porcupine, dark shape in the branches of a crab-apple tree.

We saw the bristling spikes
the clinging toes
the silent gasping mouth and
the hopelessness of descent
of that poor beast
until the bright plastic toys of a summer-not-yet-packed away
stole the attention of the curious children.

On that prickled evening
I watched her hunch into the shadows
quivering, barbed by the unfamiliar
comfort of common friends.
She crept away
across the street
to her new home
in the autumn twilight
heavy with the scent of rotting fruit and fear

~ Margaret Macpherson

Margaret Macpherson is a professional writer and teacher living in Edmonton. She has published four books of non-fiction, a collection of short stories, a novel and countless reviews, articles and poems. Her newest book, a second novel, is near completion.

“Home is difficult for me because I grew up on traditional First Nations lands in the Northwest Territories. I think I knew early on that it was not really my land even though the physical landscape informed my entire childhood. I find myself exploring that complex ex-pat relationship, belonging/not belonging in much of my writing particularly in my new novel.”

Read more of Margaret Macpherson’s poetry:
It is a big

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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