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You, once river-borne stone,
glacially displaced, an erratic;
found rest in this ancient swale.
Cracked open like a sacrifice
split by rain and ice.
Iron pins thorn your heart like a
prairie rose.

We bow in reverence,
inhale the incense of sage breezes smudging you,
a stoic, cradled in ancient layers.
Native prairie testifies,
centuries of knowing
sod never turned by a plough.

Orange lichens cloak your limestone layers,
we touch your timeless edges
worn by wind, sand, passing buffalo.
We, who pillaged your foundations,
now seek your mystery.

Wise sage, we honour your millennia.
What portent lies ahead?

You elder stone, grounded
before spear grasses emerged
before scavenging beetles turned dung
before regal crocuses quilted your bed
before roaming herds followed fire
before eerie coyotes sang to northern lights
before fluttering grouse drummed their dance
before quarry masters and fences—

before our meagre one-second selves.

© Gayle M. Smith
Sunnyplain Ranch, Saskatchewan

Photo Credit:

Glacial erratics, like this lichen encrusted boulder in Saskatoon’s Small Swale, are travelers with stories to tell. ©Candace Savage

Did you know ..

the “elder stone” described in Gayle Smith’s poem is located on the Northeast Swale, a corridor of grassland and wetlands that traces the course of an Ice Age river, in and around Saskatoon. The Swale is a refuge for life in a region in which less than five percent of natural grasslands survive.

Author: Gayle M. Smith

Gayle Smith is a past graduate of the University of Saskatchewan’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing program. She is busy writing a historical novel and also enjoys writing poetry. One collection of her poetry is titled Love Poems to Equus and is found on Instagram. Gayle spends time with her horses in the wilderness and documents her adventures on her blog.