The Summer has Flared

and dimmed: bracken now yellow
and brown, hazel leaves
mainly dusty gold, speckles of that color
also visible in the green plumes of birch,
poplar, cottonwood. A late September silence
has permeated the valley
this afternoon. Down the lane that skirts the base of the ridge

between my house and the highway,
two For Sale signs linger from May: one home on its acreage
curtainless, with no vehicles, stack of firewood
or trailered boat in its yard.
The other place still evidently lived in. Over two decades
I have watched these signs appear and evaporate
like snow. Already today our fields, gardens, forests

have travelled through showers, broken clear into
sunlight, and now pass beneath
overlays of whitish-grey clouds. I hope I never know
my house sold and empty, never have to drive or be driven a last time
along the river remembering the August night I first arrived here
at the wheel of a rented cube van. I don’t want ever to follow a truck
that hauls my belongings

out between these valley walls.

~ Tom Wayman

Since 1973, more than 15 collections of Tom Wayman’s poems have been published in Canada and the U.S. His 2002 title, My Father’s Cup, was short listed for both the Governor-General’s Literary Award and the B.C. Book Prize for poetry. His latest book of poems is High Speed Through Shoaling Water (2007). Wayman has edited several anthologies of poems, most recently The Dominion of Love: An Anthology of Canadian Love Poems (2001). His latest critical book is Songs Without Price: The Music of Poetry in a Discordant World (2008), based on a lecture he gave as the 2007 Ralph Gustafson Poetry Chair at the University of Vancouver Island. Since 2002 Wayman has taught English and writing at the University of Calgary. When not away working, he lives in the Selkirk Mountains of south-eastern B.C.

“Perhaps the mystery of why some places reach out to us and others don’t is related to how we quickly become close friends with some people we’ve just met, whereas other people we may have known all our lives we never warm up to. One school of behaviourists believe we’re most strongly attracted to people with the same emotional issues as ourselves. If we like a lot of distance in relationships, for instance, then we may find ourselves drawn to people that overtly or covertly signal that they, too, are uncomfortable with too much closeness. Can a landscape, a neighbourhood, reflect back to us some aspect of our personality we struggle with, and thereby appear to us to be extra welcoming, familiar, nurturing – all the qualities we expect of home?”

Read more of Tom Wayman’s poetry:
Crow in Grass
Flute Song
Not Every Highway has a Number

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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