This Canada,
eighty-five hectares
a gift of gratitude

Loam rich with decomposition of bone, marrow, blood, flesh, sinews, sweat.
Echoes of guns, screams, tramping boots fading with time
The sun of this Canada does not span a continent from sea to sea
Does not flood golden carpeted canola fields framed in mountain shadows
Or reflect diamond waves breaking against shores
This sun warms poppied fields whose blood red blossoms
Tiptoe across silent graves.
Winds winging across our Canada, over oceans, over channels
Weep on this Canada
Make verdant Hill 145, disguising wounds, camouflaging scars, silencing exploding shells.
This Canada a sanctuary
Of silent prayers, of memories, of unrealized dreams
Rising heavenward in marble
A young woman forever
Looks down on purple hazed villages
Cows in pastures, young men sowing seeds
and mourns her nation’s loss.

* * *

Old now
These who are ours lie buried
in this Canada
our blood red maple leaf clings listlessly
against the flag pole here, mute testimony to
fading memories wisping across this land – this Canada
A part but apart.
Away. Not home.

~ Marion Brooker

Marion Brooker grew up on a farm in southwest Manitoba in the house her grandparents built. When the barn was recently demolished and the house under threat of the wrecker’s ball it caused her to wonder whether her childhood home was not now the happy memories she has carried with her. Her book Noreen and the Amazing No-Good Horse is based on her memories. Marion has written for educational radio and is now completing a creative non-fiction book for young adults based on letters home from her 17 year old uncle who was killed at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Her poem “Vimy” is based on her travels to World War I sites. Marion lives in Edmonton with her husband and happily surrounded by family, grandchildren and their pets.

“I still use the rolling pin mentioned in the poem ‘I Will Speak.’ It was my grandmother’s. It has a knot mark in its surface that I dream will be my trademark for the pies my grandchildren love. We tend not to tell our stories unless we have an object to relate to. I will pass this rolling pin on. It is a story teller.”

Read more of Marion Brooker’s poetry:
An Anthem

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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