Lines of Embarkation
Order and TipOnline BooksMailCHBooksBackContentsNext


Illusions linger.
Like, the hot air warps light
      as rain or a phantom sea rising above the sand.
Where the low-throated boom of shifting dunes
      or the red sudden brilliance
            of a vermilion flycatcher put to flight
Seems oddly natural.
Boundaries disappear & the tracks of a caribou
      could as easily be the tracks of a lion or a dinosaur.
Except there are no caribou.
One day near Mount Assiniboine I went across the desert
      just to stare into the Great Slave Aqueduct & recount
            a litany of names connected by sweat & steel:

      The Slave River flowing into the Peace, the Peace joining the
      Little Smoky, then the Berland, the Athabasca, the McLeod,
      the Pembina, the North Saskatchewan, the Red Deer, the
      Bow, the Oldman & finally the Flathead, losing the train
      rushing further south into Idaho.

Contrast the snaking pit of cool, dark water with
      the sere desert plain all around, nearly white with
            the savage sun of an August afternoon.
Hear. The captivating sounds of rushing water
      headed for L.A.
The City of Angels.
Seeming utterly