Lodged beneath what they call a mountain sleeping under a cross my elbows
reach up singing for what really is in all ways tumbling
drift towards what is real.

They call it Royal I say rocky is where the root of my root grows
and I frequently sigh for quadrants and urban sprawl
and foothills spreading amply under exposed swaths of sky.

To move down MacLeod returning to the Bow to scoop my smiling
face out of a drift through backyards and the arch over it all recalling
was that a horse in a field in the middle of the city?

To be on the edge of line and space, with dinosaurs
guarding your gates and not the radiator humming over the trudging sound of slush
below over the years where my home was just a heavenly wasteland

Or the free easy call of wind whipping voice through reservoirs and badlands
without language police to stop sailors of the prairies from shouting “Meet
me here!” and you find them in the heart of it all.

So this is what it is to live vertically, smouldering for theories and
tantalizing hints of Cohen in a smoked meat shop when just one breath of
Bowering’s long ones leaves me sighing. So.

I am, and am not, a returnee to the place where I breathe dry rattling breaths
that nonetheless leave a spark in my chest
a study of battles never won
echoed as my family came and lived and died out west.

And hurtling back and forth and back and forth but this time if I die somewhere
above Winnipeg there will be the consolation that there was more space
involved than what this longing means.

~ Suzanne Philippot

Suzanne Philippppot is in her final year of undergraduate studies in English Literature at McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec. She is originally from Calgary, Alberta, but does not own a cowboy hat. Her interests include in depth hunting for the absurd on YouTube, casual film appreciation, staring at the sky, and cooking for guests. Coming from the wide open prairies, she is conscious of space, and is interested in exploring what it means in the east. She is currently penned in under a mountain, but will be seeking wider territories soon.

“As the child of Canadian parents whose families each moved westward, I was raised with the potential they sought visually represented in the sprawling suburbs of Calgary and the foothills and mountains beyond my home on the top of a hill. While I have lived, and will probably continue to live, for different amounts of time in many different places, Alberta as my home is a major locus of my creative potential as a person and an artist.”

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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