Nose Creek

They set out early on summer mornings
– wayfarers crossing the prairie sea.
Beyond the houses under construction,
through field of foxtails and clinging thistles,
over the gravel pit’s shifting cliffs,
beyond the fishing bridge, mink farm, gun club,
meandering gullies north of the city.

At a railroad trestle above the creek
they stood and clung to its iron frame
heart in throat while the train roared by.
Built lean-tos in a poplar brake
they called The Forest.
Dared each other into topmost branches.
Built up fire through the night.
Like coyotes, howled at the moon.

There’s no returning now.
The Forest was bulldozed in a day,
subdivisions laid out in crescents.
Duplexes clustered behind garages.
Landmarks relegated to street signs
in an asphalt grid.

And the boys whose oaths
they swore never to reveal?
Now they risk all in penny stocks,
weave lane to lane, running yellow lights
where Nose Creek dwindles to a ditch,
trickles through storm sewers under the streets
where once the coyotes howled.

~ Colin Morton

Colin Morton, who grew up on Calgary’s North Hill, received a B.A. from the University of Calgary and M.A. from the University of Alberta. He now lives and writes in Ottawa. His most recent books of poetry are The Cabbage of Paradise (2007), The Local Cluster (2008), The Hundred Cuts: Sitting Bull and the Major (2009) and Winds and Strings (2013).

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