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The Trouble With Beauty

talk to the hills
               lose your extravagance
         lie down in the horsemint and sage
                                           grass is a window, look through it

                                          choose sentences carefully, pace yourself
the story is long, see how attentive these smiling bones have become
                                                                                 tell them a good one

there is nothing so wonderful as to be heard to the very end
            of what you needed to say
                                                                               and the silence afterward
                                                  the sigh that comes up the valley
                                                                                                    that is applause


Whistling Swans

Child brought to reeds
hear the black-billed swans, white
as April ends
your pale neck trembles
sun begins to climb
a hard light fills our dreams
its clamour smashes nest
and shell

© Bruce Rice
Regina, Saskatchewan
Treaty 4 Territory and Homeland of the Metis


Photo Credit:

Tundra Swan pair in flight. The nickname “Whistling Swan” refers to the sound of their powerful wings.  Photo © Mia McPherson On the Wing Photography

Did you know ..

Swans are so much more than large waterfowl. With their majesty and grace, they capture our attention, make us catch our breath. The yellow spot below the eye helps distinguish Tundra Swans from endangered Trumpeter Swans. Both species pass through the Saskatchewan grain belt on their way to and from their nesting grounds. Tundra Swans sometimes take a rest stop in Saskatoon’s Northeast Swale.

Author: Bruce Rice

Bruce Rice, whose term as  Saskatchewan Poet Laureate has just ended, is a poet, essayist and editor. His six collections of poetry include, most recently, The Vivian Poems: Street Photographer Vivan MaierThe opening poem in this post comes from The Trouble With Beauty. Bruce  writes about individual lives, community and how we are transformed by landscape even as we leave our footprints on it.