Authors: Lorna Crozier
Tags: #SIAA0I03, #book
a prairie memoir
D&M PUBLISHERS INC.
Copyright Â© 2009 by Lorna Crozier
09Â Â 10Â Â 11Â Â 12Â Â 13Â Â Â 5Â Â 4Â Â 3Â Â 2Â Â 1
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Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Small beneath the sky : a prairie memoir / Lorna Crozier.
1. Crozier, Lorna. 2. Poets, Canadian (English)â20th centuryâ
Biography. 3. Swift Current (Sask.)âBiography. I. Title.
476 2009Â Â Â Â Â
811'.54Â Â Â Â Â
Editing by Barbara Pulling
Jacket design by Peter Cocking
Jacket photo illustration by Peter Cocking;
original photos Â© Momatiuk-Eastcott/
Dave Reede/First Light (landscape)
Distributed in the U.S. by Publishers Group West
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, the Province of British Columbia through the Book Publishing Tax Credit and the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (
) for our publishing activities.
For Barry and Linda Crozier
and for Lynda H.
And the land around us green and happy,
waiting as you wait for a killer to spring,
a full-sized blur,
waiting like a tree in southern Saskatchewan,
cremarked on, lonely and famous as a saint.
The Green Plain
IN WRITING THIS BOOK
, I am indebted to
Aristotle, who hypothesized that there must
be something beyond the chain of cause
and effect, something that started it all. He
called this immovable force the first cause.
YOU DON'T KNOW
what light feels or how its thinking goes. You do know this is where it's most at home. On the plains where you were born, there are no mountains to turn it back, no forest for it to shoulder through. A solitary tree marks its comings and goings like a pole sunk in the shore of the ocean to measure the tides. Here, light seems like another form of water, as clear but thinner, and it cannot be contained. When you touch it, it resists a little and leaves something like dampness on your skin. You feel it the way you feel a dog's tongue lick your cheek in the early morning. After an hour or two of walking, you are soaked in brightness. When you shake your head and shoulders, you see the spray. If you stay too long in the open, you could drown, its currents carrying you to its source, your body bobbing, then going under, your lungs full of lustre. Nowhere else in your travels will you see light so palpable and fierce. It is too huge for dreams, too persistent for solitude. All day long it touches you with the smallest of its million watery wings.
clarity of light there has to be its opposite. Something that smears, stains, drops a shroud and forms a film across the eye. When the wind is up, the season dry, the world turns upside down: the sky becomes the earth, particular and grey, and you breathe it in. You can get lost in dust as in a blizzard. You need a rope to make it from the house to the barn and back again. Dust settles on dugouts and sloughs, on drifts of snow, on the yellow of canola, on the siding of houses, on washing hung on the line. It rises in small asthmatic clouds as your feet hit the ground. It insinuates itself under the thickest hair, forms a thin cap that hugs your skull, a caul for the dying. It thickens your spit, it tucks between your fingers and toes, it sifts through the shell of an egg. Here's dust in your eye and ashes to ashes. It is the bride's veil and the widow's, the skin between this world and the next. It is the smell you love most, the one that means home to you, dust on the grass as it meets the first drops of summer rain.
the wind in this spare land? Of the trees it is the aspens, their leaves long-stemmed so they flutter in the slightest breeze. If you were led blindfolded to a grove of them, you'd step back, sure you stood on the brink of Niagara. The mist the wind sprays is gritty on your cheeks, but it doesn't dull these leaves. Wind flips them and wins the toss; it frisks them from stem to tip and shakes them insensible. When they soar, then fall, the leaves forget they cannot rise again.
Of the unwanted, it is the tumbleweeds, cursÃ¨d, straw-coloured candelabras of brittle stems and thorns. Shallowly rooted, they leave their rainless gardens of neglect and somersault like ribs of acrobats across the fallow fields. At lines of barbed wire stretching from post to post, with the surety of stone, they build a border, a wailing wall, the wind hauling sifts of clay and packing them in, so the wind itself cannot pass through.