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A Prophet in His Own Country

The gopher on his hind legs
is taut with holiness and fright.
Miniature and beardless,
he could be stoned or flooded out,
burnt alive in stubble fields,
martyr to children for a penny a tail.

How can you not believe an animal
who goes down headfirst
into darkness, into the ceaseless
pull of gravity beneath him?
What faith that takes?

I come to him with questions
because I love his ears, how perfectly
they fit, how flat they lie against his head.
They hear the inner and the outer
worlds: what the rain says
underground. The stone’s praise
for the sparrow’s ankle bone.

Little earth-otter, little dusty Lazarus,
he vanishes, he rises. He won’t tell us
what he’s seen.

© Lorna Crozier
Victoria, B.C.
From The Blue Hour of the Day
McClelland and Stewart

Photo Credit:

A gopher, or Richardson’s Ground Squirrel, surveys her world.  © Meghan Mickelson

Did you know ..

Richardsons’ Ground Squirrels are found only on the northern Great Plains. Here, they are a keystone species, providing food for foxes, coyotes and hawks and shelter for snakes, Burrowing Owls, Tiger Salamanders and many other creatures.

Author: Lorna Crozier

An Officer of the Order of Canada, Lorna Crozier has been acknowledged for her contributions to Canadian literature, her teaching and her mentoring. Her books have received numerous national awards, including the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry. She was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. 

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