How I feel when words fail me

One of my favourite poems. And I’m not a poem person by any means! “Nass River” by Robert Maclean was brought to me by a fellow grad student when I was doing fieldwork for my graduate studies up in northern BC. I dug it out while cleaning my office one day. Brought back oh-so-vivid memories of the grand and harsh beauty of where I was working during those fly/skeeter/no-see-um-filled summers. It’s how I feel still about living in BC… a province where over 90% of the land is rock, mountains, and barren ice fields.

Tent tethered among jack pine and blue-bells. Lacewings rise from rock incubators. Wild geese flying north. And I can’t remember who I’m supposed to be.

I want to learn how to purr. Abandon myself, have mistresses in maidenhair fern, own no tomorrow nor yesterday: a blank shimmering space forward and back. I want to think with my belly. I want to name all the stars animals flowers birds rocks in order to forget them, start over again. I want to wear the seasons, harlequin, become ancient and etched by weather. I want to be snow pulse, ruminating ungulate, pebble at the bottom of the abyss, candle burning darkness rather than flame. I want to peer at things shameless, observe the unfastening, that stripping of shape by dusk. I want to sit in the meadow a rotten stump pungent with slimemold, home for pupae and grubs, concentric rings collapsing into the passacaglia of time. I want to crawl inside someone and hibernate one entire night with no clocks to wake me, thighs fragrant loam. I want to melt. I want to swim naked with an otter. I want to turn inside out, exchange nuclei with the Sun. Toward the mythic kingdom of summer I want to make blind motion, using my ribs as a raft, following the spiders as they set sail on their tasseled shining silk.

Sometimes even a single feather’s enough to fly.

~ Robert Maclean (Nass River)



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