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The Elephants

in containers of volition

Cecily Nicholson


way side singing highway 7
a slow leak in the tire
still on to black diamond
eventually drumheller
to visit my brother

linear scatter in thousands
of distinctive foothills
erratics train late till

amid the highly-fractured
and other landslide debris
broke-up or rounded-down

almost unmarked and whole
despite the biting striations

as it were—carried on top
or in the upper part
of megalith pulses
of cold climate moving
as it moved—thick-bedded

feldspathic light
arisen from transformation
grey pink to purplish
in the heat and pressure
fissures of frost action
otherwise unweathered

at the rest stop
a storm came
and I watched it come
across mustard flowers in green
brassica oil seed
of canada oiliuem
better oil, better meal
genetics found growing wild
along these road sides
in school yards and parks
plants ploughed back into soil

come back to me
as the way dives by dry lakes

150 miles to the next gas station
60 miles to the next church


land lifts
the road rises to meet
where are you at passenger
how did you come to be so out of reach

just a couple of years

well I remember well
those lips a seal of callous
on a mouth so thin-seeming
until the bottom one plumps out

where did you get so free
and far from hand coursing thigh
in the Hopper summer light

where the tongue is tied
is tender
I remember I forgot
I had difficulty with talk
and resisted rough-housing

while skin carries forth
while my cotton and corn

the mind of a picker
have I lost

lifted and moving in this moment
above all we have lost

a periodic impulse
a pendulum

escapement to movements

solidity of form best achieved
by the light falling against it

in some dramatic and productive way
the light returns and falls against us

2017 Writer in Residence at Simon Fraser University, Cecily Nicholson is the administrator of the artist-run centre Gallery Gachet and the author of Triage and From the Poplars, winner of the Dorothy Livesay prize for poetry. She belongs to the Joint Effort prison abolitionist group and is a member of the Research Ethics Board for Emily Carr University.

This originally appeared on March 19, 2017