this house, so much comfort here
subsurface – I
imagine hands wielding shovels
dreams reinforced by timbers
felled in back country
forested decades before cement
trucks excavated, solidified foundation
before natural gas supplanted coal
corner of root cellar, diagonally opposite coal chute
hollowed out for pipe, meter.

half a century passes
utility removes old meter, re-installs exteriorly
discovers repository for twelve two-inch glass
bottles of LePage’s grip spreader mucilage
fitted with rubber dispenser
slanted, lacerated to ease application
young fingers paste construction
paper, popsicle sticks, string
secreted evidence of
indulgence, escape underground.

~ Barbara Janusz

Barbara Janusz is a lawyer, educator, poet and freelance writer residing in the Crowsnest Pass. A contributing writer for EnviroLine, the Business Publication for the Environmental Industry, she has published poetry, short stories, editorials and essays in the Wild Lands Advocate, Inner Voice, Fast Forward, Synchronicity Magazine, Our Times, Forum Magazine, West Word, Carte Blanche, Prairie Journal, blood ink, Tower Poetry Society Press and various anthologies.

“‘loose change’ reflects a contrast between urban living and ife in a small town. I’m very superstitious and won’t pass by a coin lying on the street without picking it up ‘for good luck.’ After moving to Crowsnest Pass from Calgary in 2005, I noticed that there was a lot less spare change lying around on the street than in the city, but when I started to write a poem about spare change and my superstitions, I realized the irony. Where there’s more spare change, there’s more homelessness too. If someone doesn’t have a home they’re deprived of comfort, a refuge, sanctuary, a place to secure and maintain their sanity.”

Read more of Barbara Janusz’s poetry:
on the brink of the slide
Upper Kananaskis Lake
Jet Lag
Black Hole 1
Black Hole 2

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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