We followed a path of hooves
along the coulees.
Spotted a small herd
of mule deer hidden in the foliage.
Ears alert, they watched
the train of walkers
white rumps flagging.
We stopped in the snarled brush
beside a dry creek bed
sat on backpacks and flattened
the thorns and Poison Ivy.
We trudged through the sunken
potholes of cattle
in a bone-dry swamp
and found a trickling stream
where scattered bleached bones
laid, or hung from branches.
At a dugout a dog swam in
the cool muddy water.
We munched on our lunch
in the sun full
For years on blistered feet
the hikers have followed their hearts
through the grasslands of Saskatchewan
in the prairie heat.
A retired geologist pointed the land formation.
A historian showed us the old settler trails.
An ornithologist’s keen eyes
found birds we would have missed.
None could identify the Mormon cricket
its large iridescence green
against the dry prairie grass.
We marvelled at the undulating hills.
Heavy clumps of chokecherries within reach.
Investigated caved-in homesteads.
Camped at a farmer’s orchard.
Walked through a Cree reserve.
Raw beauty. Saskatchewan.
© Louise B. Halfe — Sky Dancer
Saskatoon’s Northeast Swale offers the prairie experience in miniature. Less than five percent of the original grassland ecosystem remains in our region, making the surviving fragments especially precious and revelatory. © Candace Savage
Did you know ..
this poem was written especially for This Singing Land kanikamot askiy. In it, poet Louise B. Halfe, Sky Dancer, reflects on a pilgrimage she made across the prairies of southern Saskatchewan, a terrain rich in life and stories. Grasslands are cultural landscapes, deeply rooted in memory.
Author: Louise B. Halfe
Louise B. Halfe, Sky Dancer, was raised on the Saddle Lake First Nation and attended Blue Quills Residential School. She eared her Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Regina and certificates in Addictions Counselling from the Nechi Institute. The author of five award-winning books of poetry, she has served as Poet Laureate of Saskatchewan and was recently appointed Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate.
More about her impressive career here.