Commute in Summer
Suddenly, the iceis gone from the riversand the summer workersare riding their bicycles.
The gravel cracklesunder their tiresas they swoopthrough the streetsclean and brightas gulls.
They are commutingto their summer jobsin shops and hotelswhere things are uncomplicated.They punch tills or make bedsand take their lunch hourin the parkby the clay cliffs.
Somewhere 10,000 hectaresof forest are burningbut the smokehasn’t reached us,just the CBC news.
Canoes float byon roof racks.I’d rather be on the river,but the shapeof a keel is a consolation of sortsand the prettiest thing
I’ve seen—that,or the pink hazeof fireweed growingout of a burned forest,or how a cyclistmust raise her hip a littleand renew her gripon the handlebarsbefore she pedals away.
Writing from her “northerly edge,” is Whitehorse, Yukon poet Clea Robertsin her debut collection, Here Is Where We Disembark (Calgary AB: Freehand Books, 2010). Built with a storytelling ease, hers is a collection that writes of her geographic immediate, the surroundings and domestic and moments of simply living. Beyond the arc of straightforward narrative, where her writing compels is in the small moments, writing out not arcs but specific points, the pinpricks of smallnesses, such as in the piece “Seasonal Adjustments” or “Sunset, Little Atlin.” These pieces etch out almost like little koans, writing:
The lighthas chosena path acrossthe water.
There were sections of the collection that read as too straightforward, requiring more nuance, some tightening up in spots, to let the compelling phrases and sections really come out. Still, hers are contemplative poems on a roughneck and potentially aggressive wilderness, letting the breath show where the breathing lies, suggesting so much more nearly as matter-of-fact, such as the poem “What to Carry With You,” that opens:
In august of the year thatruined and saved uswe ride toward autumnon the Fish Lake road,