Under Saint Werburgh’s spired-gaze
not far from the rolling Chattenden fields
where prostrate Saxon kings lie impotent,
they buried the young girl alone
far from God’s searching eyes,
outside the hallow churchyard walls
where her severed head could never see
the Coming of the Christian god.

Last week, they reburied her brown bones
beside the intolerant who shunned her,
reunited her head and neck
in a ritual of sympathy and atonement
to a God who forgot her name
when her weary heart bled most.

What grey sunset and low hanging sky
vanished forever with the close of her eyes?
The day Henry’s grand army rode past in twos
on their way to ships bound for France?
Or the pagan rituals of her grandmother
unleashing spirits in the black woods by moonlight?
With no tongue she tells no secrets:
these things are lost forever to the world.

And when I die and close my eyes
what things will vanish with me?
The clink of loose shale at 10,000 feet
like ice cold pop bottles
and a football game with my father,
or the way her eyes darkened
that afternoon beside the fast flowing river,
like clouds forming over a black pond in July?

~ Rob K. Omura

Rob K. Omura lives in Calgary, Alberta, where he lives from oil plumes, surrounded by vistas and all the trappings of modern living. He prefers to spend his days hopping mountain ridges in the Rockies, where there is nothing else to consider by the next step and the majestic views, and sometimes he even dabs the wet ink and ties words on to lines. His fiction and poetry appears or is forthcoming in numerous literary journals, ezines, and anthologies including the New York Quarterly. His poetry aired on CBC Radio for National Poetry Month in April, 2008. He was a 2009 Pushcart nominee. Sometimes he works on his novel, and at other times, he drinks coffee, sighs and wonders when he’ll get back to work on his novel.

“Writing poems is like carving stone; although you often see what the stone wants to be, it takes a sharp chisel and a little blood and sweat to bring it forth. You don’t create the stone; you merely give it the shape it wants to be.”

Read more of Rob K. Omura’s poetry:
Great Lone Land
At the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre
Wendy Waits
On Kerr’s Prairie Skyes
Spring Cleaning

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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