So many names for God

Pembina June 2012

Here on the Pembina river
cut-banked, clay-cliffed, coal-seamed
silt-water, umber, rust, tan, buff
a seagull, a squawk
the high flight of a river clam
the drop in mud and shore slurry
the unbroken bafflement
a young mother and cradled baby
the beauty of two feet wading
a small boy bending
the surprised face of a flat stone skipping
a black poplar with a polka-dot sweater
slung over knotty shoulder  
a collision of ants on glacial till
a scuffle and tug-of-war
silver bush slanting out from slumping bluff
jute claws clutching loam clumps
three sandstone rocks on the far shore
twenty shades of green on one leaf
and the white flower pledge of saskatoons
catkin fuzz flies up into a curlicue cloud
tall jack pine befriends crow
exposed root awaits alluvial burial
young spruce with supple spine
leans low over white-water limbo
and the motion of river water in wind
looks like all the diamonds in the world
and a full-faced sun at a flat angle
stills everything, lets you loiter
in the eddy of a moment
while the river awaits the
patient red hull of your canoe.


  1. I taught for five years at Entwistle. It was my first real teaching assignment. It is amazing what I learned along the Pembina. We used to change the words to the Captain Tractor/Arrogant Worms song: Pirates of the North Saskatchewan.

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