With thanks to Thistledown Press for allowing these poems to be published here first!

hummingbirds hear colour
coyotes nose crack in a leaf for direction
bears walk space made by wind

if humans could once
again divine
the essential, what
would they do?

Coyote lies on his side smoking a cigarette. Hat tipped back reveals his beautiful eyes.
He yaps at Deer, demurely chewing cud.
You need to stop being Deer and be Coyote. It is much better.

Deer looks over Coyote’s head, into the valley below.
I am Deer.

But, you can never have what Coyote has if you remain thus.
What does Deer have compared to what Coyote has? You must envy me.

Deer shifts her weight, looks into the sky and breathes
the colour of new grass. I am Deer
it is not Coyote.

when addressing Deer, I smile without teeth

the creek speaks
of a small pelvis, still attached to the spinal column by
the last three vertebrae
it could be me
who will die under claw, I think

wooden roots splayed as light from stars
brought home after we skate Snaring Pond
there is magic in the earth
beyond the seen, there is enchantment from
the heavens, beyond the scene of men
digging, burning
acrid smoke rises from Earth, she bellows
in my sleep, she bawls
Beloved, Little Brother gouges me

to rid my shoulder of knives
I sweat and moan, wrap
her screech around my head
O Beloved, he hurts me

Little Brother
wounds deep, shows bone

the lesson is hard
and it is coming
the stars will turn to wood
and Little Brother would burn them too

I love this place without being romantic, witty or urbane about it
I love her with my feet and my knees
my shoulders knuckles ribs all the hard parts
the beauty here is flayed to bone
she doesn’t fool me
she comes unashamed, hair askew
her socks a little rumpled, her breath filled with cigarette and coffee
so real and funny and wobbly
I love her as my own skin

~ Paulette Dubé

Paulette Dubé’s been on this planet for 45 years. She has been publishing poetry and prose for almost half that time. If she has anything to say, it is this: accept that miracles abound everyday as the hummingbird who stops at the kitchen window to make sure you are working and the coyote laughter when you’re not. All exists to guide and inspire you. Talon, her first novel, made the short lists in 2003 for the Alberta Writers’ Guild Best Novel Award and the Starburst Award. Her poetry garnered a number of rewards. Most recently, First Mountain, made the short list for the Stephan G. Stephansson Award, (2008). The poems featured in this anthology and on blue skies poetry are from the collection Gaits that will be released by Thistledown Press in March of 2010.

“Home means somewhere, there is a light on over the stove in the kitchen and someone worries until I get back. In that same vein – it is a place where the land reacts to you because you belong.”

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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