Homeless (at Beauvais Lake)

At last
two cougars are laid out
on the hood of the ranger’s truck,
two cougars, lifeless in the kerosene light,
but it’s only a matter of time until the drug wears off.
Campers gather in the shadows,
children who should be peeling
the crisp skins off marshmallows
feast instead on the rare sight of slumbering peril.
The mountain lions are still now
after the terror they caused the day before
stalking people in the campground.
Their paws lie motionless
after running through the trees all day.
I imagine their plush feet
mute as moss on the forest floor,
the sound of their slow and even breath
driven by the eternal baying of the dogs
high pitched, excited as wild geese.
I heard it all day,
the baying of the dogs and I wondered
how the hunters had become the hunted.
This used to be a peaceful place
to watch the timeless flight of eagles
to hear the beaver slap his tail on the surface of the lake
before acres of nearby land were scarred by logging
before gas wells scorched the air.
Slowly things began to change –
the leaves of the birch trees lost their lustre
and the red eyed loon grew silent.
Men came from the gas company
to talk about possible disasters
but they never mentioned cougars
running wild in the park.
I ask what will happen to them and
I am told they will be “relocated.”
I don’t know what this means exactly,
but one thing is certain –
we have lost our sense of place,
the cougars and I.

~ Marlene Dean

Marlene Dean has lived in Alberta since 1970. She has taught in the public school system as well as at the University of Lethbridge. Her writing has been published in The Lethbridge Herald, Tesseracts 5, Writing the Land, and on the website www.blueskiespoetry.ca. Her work has been broadcast on CBC Alberta Anthology and by VoicePrint Broadcasting Services “Stone Soup Anthology.”

“To me, home means the unique landscapes of Southern Alberta. It means the mysterious shadows of the Lethbridge coulees, the sacred hoodoos of the Milk River, the living spirit of nature in the diverse wildlife of the Rocky Mountains and the magnificence of Waterton Lakes.”

Read more of ‘s poetry:
November in the Wilderness Park
Damsel Flies

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 “Homeless (at Beauvais Lake)”

  1. “feast instead on the rare sight of slumbering peril.”
    – What a magnificent line. thank you Marlene

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