Poem

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Someone Else’s North

We mark papers and hire sitters and drink to once upon
when we ranged north, spent summers in tents, biked
from Yukon to Alaska alone. Now, we apply for more grants,
allow ourselves to be stream-fed scraps of gossip.

Even in daydreams, we have the same décor: the animal skull
hung off-centre on a white wall, an iconic chair, vintage globe,
the taxidermied bird, for godsake—all ironic, or not.
Who is this we? you ask. Why am I roping you into this?

This is no mountain I’ve climbed alone, this dailiness,
these details. We are all complicit. A friend closes a door
behind a grad student and you don’t say anything, then or later.
Before we documented everything, I had nothing but memory

to mark my solo ascents. Halfway up Montana Mountain,
I heard the rasp of breath first then hooves severed
the icy skein of snow before I looked up from my climb
to catch the sidelong glance of a caribou as it ran by.

I can see its large, glossy eyeball roll toward me,
hear the whir of insects alighting on my exposed skin
until I climbed high enough that I was through them.
That is someone else’s north now; my polestar shifting

as my compass trembles like a pulse. Friends appear
onscreen, well-linked and adorned with witticisms.
Our time-lines flicker, back-lit. We’re all amateurs—
our history, our cartography as looped and twisted as string.

 

from This Glossy Animal, a limited edition chapbook to be released by Baseline Press in November 2013.

 

Laisha Rosnau worked for four summers in Whitehorse, Yukon. Leaving in late August marked her more “wuss” than “Northerner” however she lived for five years—winters included!—in Prince George, BC. Rosnau is the author of three collections of poetry, including Decadent Nut Orchard, to be published by Nightwood in Spring 2014, and a novel, The Sudden Weight of Snow (McClelland & Stewart). Rosnau lives in Coldstream, BC, where her family are resident caretakers of Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary.

Check out more of Laisha’s work and other great poetry in Arc’s North issue, coming in November to a newsstand near you!

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