Quieter now, the engines, the road work, the generator,
cement truck, track layer, steam roller, pedestrians

hollering over the chunking of bike gears,
the colossal vents of the curling rink, goose communication,

your slow stabs of thought, and a winter of crows
above, a system settling in over heated laces of concrete,

under darkening cradle of sky, the orange sodium triangles
snapping into place for the night,

the quivering of millions of flight feathers in wind,
the tangle of humans hurling themselves home

from their jobs, certain no one can see them
or hear what they say to themselves

under crows by the thousands, thick in the treetops.
You hop the fence of your humanity

to teem with the crisping choir of wings,
minds in such numbers above, speckling the steel grey sky

with their clamour and their planning,
and they can hear you, your exhalations,

your dumb wonder, your memory of magpie,
gopher hole, poplar scent, saskatoon,

what canola smells like, and oil refineries,
lodged in this form in this place coursing its own river,

which you want to get closer to but haven’t
and can’t yet, and the crows let you admit it.

Under these roiling dark bodies, nearly
languageless, falling for supermarket hyacinth,

the people around you looking up and cowering, flooring it,
past this receding stand of trees, the roots with less and less

to hold onto, bird and human seem after the same thing:
warmth, safety in numbers, an unperturbed sleep.

Look how much farther the humans think
they need to travel to find it.

Laurie D. Graham grew up in Treaty 6 territory (Sherwood Park, Alberta), and she currently lives in Treaty 20 territory (Peterborough, Ontario), where she is a poet, an editor, and the publisher of Brick magazine. Her first book, Rove, was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for best first book of poetry in Canada. Her second book, Settler Education, was nominated for Ontario’s Trillium Award for Poetry. A collaborative chapbook with painter Amanda Rhodenizer called The Larger Forgetting was published in the fall of 2018.

To view other content published in this issue, 15:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

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