A Different Kind of Loss – and Finding

New then: gravel roads, dry wells, school bus, sumps and skunks.
Bed bathed in moonlight, dog at the foot, moose hide at the head
Horse shoes, bridal path, purple gas, party-line phone, cannon bone. They learned.
Together through snowdrifts, hay fields, country lanes. A three-legged race.

Who knew that straw brooms are not the same as chains? Horses roam.
Stones break septic tanks and tractors. Mice turds look like bugs.
Transplanted even a strong tree, a bush, a woman, wilts.
Loneliness is not the same as solitude. Gopher holes can kill.

Weather vane mysteries: goat half eaten, dead rabbits in a row, three goslings gone.
Frogs on the pillow, bats in the bath, how he thrived, how she stayed.

Binder twine and duck tape hold it together for a while.
Too soon rain, roofs leak, weeds grow, fences fall.
Truck, tractor, bodies, break, need overhaul, re-tire.

Days now: feet don’t touch the earth, eyes, the northern sky.
South from their concrete condo they see river valley, high rises, cranes.
Through the window, symphony of horn, helicopter, siren, chatter, chimes.
Above the fireplace, flashes, men in uniform, balls, guns, flags. Too much.

Pain, one titanium knee, golf club, cane, emergency room, waiting, list.
Waiting. In their small cave. Together.
Their country, now each other.

~ Diane Buchanan

Diane Buchanan has lived in and around Edmonton all of her life. Born and raised in the city she moved to the country at mid-life with her family and lived there for thirty-six years before moving back into the centre of the city in 2006. She began to write after retiring from nursing in 1995. She has two collections of poetry: Ask Her Anything (2001) and Between the Silences (2005) which was short-listed for the 2006 Acorn-Plantos Award for People’s Poetry. Her most recent manuscript, Under A Horseshoe Moon, a poetic memoir is currently being considered for publication.

“‘Last to Leave’ came out of the move from country to city. I returned one last time to the country house to make sure it was clean and empty and, as I l left I saw my grandson’s handprint on the backdoor window, left from his last visit to the farm. I just couldn’t leave it behind.”

Read more of Diane Buchanan’s poetry:
The Warp and Woof
On a Prairie Slough Just Outside the City One Morning Mid-July
The Secret of Grass

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.

One Response to “A Different Kind of Loss – and Finding”

  1. Diane, as always, your poems don’t mess around. You tell the truth in the most amazing ways. I really like the line: …
    …transplanted even a stong tree, a bush, a woman wilts.
    …how he thrived, how she stayed. (so much is said in these six words alone!)
    Thank you for sharing.

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