Sandon Mine

The rain abates, the air left dank and sweet with spruce breath. Madid moss in the ditch holds the imprint of hooves.

Anne’s finger becomes a baton, tipping its point to each wildflower that she spots. She chants their names, an incantation of gratitude for the end of the rain.

Phyl is deaf to this roll call of flora. She gives a surly jerk, as she strips sodden gloves from pruned up joints, puffs warm air into palms. A halo of steam encircles her face.

A cyan Ford sedan crawls by. Its tires on gravel, like molars grinding cubed ice. The passenger window rolls down, a slit, so a man can call: Like a drink?

The Ford pulls over, and Anne and Phyl dismount. The men say they are workers from the Sandon mine. They pass a beaten glass bottle of rum and coke, and the women gladly share. The men say they slowed, for they knew them somehow.

The rum runs its hot fingernails down the girls’ throats, pools in their empty stomachs. Anne’s eyes gone glassy, she laughs too much at the feeble jokes told by the men.

The men say, Leave your horses at the camp. Come with us to Nakusp. We’ll buy you t-bone steaks. We’ll take you to the sauna.

Anne can almost taste the charred flesh; Phyl feels the warm flush of basking in hot humidity. Then Anne’s rain-slick fingers slip on the bottle. A frantic grasp and she clutches at the neck before the glass is dashed. They say no to the men, send them on to their camp to inquire after a farrier. Phyl tosses the bottle off into the underbrush.

~ Emily Ursuliak grew up in the rolling hills southwest of Bentley, Alberta, but now calls Calgary home. She recently completed an MA in English at the University of Calgary where she’s been working on her first novel and her first collection of poems. You can find out more Emily at:

You can read more poems by Emily here, including Sunnyside, which is included in the Flood section of “The Calgary Project – A City Map in Verse and Visual.

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