The Colour of Conversation

At dawn we tread the frosty ground
in withered parkas, work clothes
of linear and tangle. It is a shock
when my father’s eyes meet mine
so blue, so different from the mettle
of his voice and tools. There lies
the triumph of his enigma, the sleight-
of-hand, where your eyes follow
the fox to the shrub and then
there is only the vast prairie
with its sky, nothing else. He would
proffer a wrench and ask me to loosen
the bolts and change the shovels
already catching the spray of the rising sun
glinting knife-sharp edges, yet the rest
of the day, all he will let me see, all
I remember are his mottled hands, the spots
on his white hands, and the one scar
glaring like a cornered wild animal.

~ Bruce Strand

“I grew up on a farm in the Peace River country where I developed a strong attachment to the land and the outdoors in general. Besides writing poetry, I enjoy cross-country skiing, canoeing, and photography. I teach in an Alternative High School in Red Deer. I have had some poetry published in journals and broadcast on CBC Radio.

Home is filled with the voices and noises of the people I love, who share the same space and put up with the noises I make. Home is the emotion I attach to places where I feel comfortable and free, places that I know well or that have become familiar. Home is built on layers of memories and lined with the old skins I have shed.”

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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