Lines Written on a Map of Calgary

On the corner of Crowchild and Fifth
she buys the coordinates to this city:
pink subdivisions, mint green parks
flattened and folded to hide the sprawl.

At the intersection of Centre Street and the Bow,
quadrants encroach into prairie, soon to absorb Cochrane,
Canmore, Banff, Brooks, Edmonton, Vancouver,
St. John’s, London, Istanbul, Venice, Venus.

But on this map, equipped with legend, progress is contained.
Pioneer history at M23, playoffs at Q18, poverty at P17,
the tsunami that devastated her dreams one summer evening: K16.

She scrawls Saturday across Inglewood, chickadee at Point McKay,
coyote at the Queen’s Park Cemetery, chasse in the grey industrial expanse
of Highfield. She writes eclipse on Nose Hill one February evening
just above freezing, equinox where she lay beside the snowmelt.

Later, she’ll trace the backbone of the Bow,
massaging its vertebrae beneath her, a barefoot reading
of summer-soft stones. She’ll scale the Tower,
shoot the rapids below 14th Street, scramble through suburbs.

She’ll set out with nothing but backpack and dawn,
guides to the endemic and accidental, water to withstand a drought.
No city deep enough to quench her dreams.

She’ll seek the places where prairie lingers,
wind unpunctuated by skyscraper, pasque flower uninhibited
by stone. She’ll walk the night known only to coyotes and vagrants,
make love in folds of cricket song, saying nothing.

~ Angela Rae Waldie

Angela Rae Waldie teaches at Mount Royal University. Born in Creston, BC, she has spent much of her life crossing and re-crossing the Continental Divide, and her poetry reflects her affinity for mountain and prairie places. She is currently working on a collection entitled A Single Syllable of Wild.

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