bison burgers at the Arden Diner

we sit in a high-backed booth
the day before, pretend
we’re Calgary tourists

I’ve always been a diner girl
I tell you as I pick up
a sweet potato fry, set it down

we unfold a city map
plan our drive to Green’s Lapidary
but the lure of the stones
can’t divert me from this path

you are already mapping
tomorrow, our pre-dawn drive
to Foothills Hospital

you cannot see the evening ahead
me at the cluttered hotel room desk
scribbling my final instructions
you listening to music, phoning
friends, glancing towards me

our dark morning departure
pre-op procedures
say your name and spell it
do you know why you are here
this just makes my head hurt

hospital blues are not my colour
no food or drink signs inspire my appetite
let’s blow this pop stand, check out
the Arden’s breakfast menu
today I could actually eat that burger

~ Catherine McLaughlin

Catherine McLaughlin lives in the Peace River Country in northern Alberta. Making poetry helps her to explore where she’s been and to dream her future. She is co-writer and researcher for Grande Prairie’s Century Play (2014) and works as a freelance writer and essayist. “The Light of Ravens” has been accepted for inclusion in Animal Kin: Extraordinary Encounters With Animals, editor Pam Chamberlain. See more of her poetry at and

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