1. What can we say about humans on this earth? Water crisis. Warming crisis.
Pandemic. Zoo-demic. Anthropocene.
walking my dog.
is harmless, everything is. We weigh and measure our choices each day. Have a
dog. Hang the laundry. Own a car. Own a bicycle. Coffee to go? Get it from the
café that serves in biodegradable cups because we can no longer use reusable
rereads Moby Dick every year. This year, he listens to it on a podcast.
The whale is a whale, but the men could be read as the Anthropocene chasing the
whale to find their own death. Ocean acidification. Streams lined with plastic
waste. Fish’s bellies full of glitter and plastic pellets.
walk my dog. Rather, he tows me. Out the front door, up the street to Playfair
Park. Play fair humans. I toss and toss and toss his ball, then we walk to the
next park, a soccer field, and toss it some more.
water. Salt water. I have stayed safely in my neighbourhood for months now.
Though, over the last few years, from here, I have collected poems and made
water books: Refugium and Sweet Water. Poets’ words branching
from mighty Pacific to stream to watershed to creek and river and back to
ocean. Voices. The poems worry over sturgeon and hidden rivers, over whales and
“Mink have Coronavirus”. I picture
little white, ferret-nosed mink, but alas no – the accompanying photo is of a
coat hanger filled layer on layer with the bodies of mink.
was a shock last week when Denmark decided to cull all its mink – up to 17
million animals – because of the spread of coronavirus. That national cull has
turned into a political outcry, now that the prime minister had admitted the
plan was rushed and had no legal basis.” BBC News World, November 11, 2020.
you kidding me?
toss the dog’s ball. What passers by might hear is “Look out for people,
Frodo.” or “This way, Frodo!” as he heads the wrong way, or “Let’s walk.” At
which he grabs the ball and jauntily runs on ahead. He is muddy now, from the
damp fields. The last throw flew over the fence into the Gary Oak meadow. Damn
humans, damn self. I am ashamed for
letting him cavalierly jump trampling overwintering native plants, camas and
are cavalier. Careless. Trampling is our way. Water wasters. Ocean dumpers.
Lives lost and lives stolen.
walk the carefully laid paths. A neighbour has spent years digging up invasive
weeds, rejuvenating this Gary Oak meadow so camas grows in abundance each
spring. I deeply and profoundly believe in this work.
just past 7am. My husband has been listening to the last chapter of Moby
Dick while making his toast. He stands, his large hands before him. He
shakes them like a preacher, says: “The great sky-hawk pecks at the flag on
Ahab’s ship and is caught in the folds of the flag and brought down with the
ship.” I say: “It is a metaphor, the bird is the whole planet, and the ship is
us goddamned humans taking the last creature down with us.” He says: “The ship
is Satan bringing heaven down into the depths of the sea.”
“Liberal government will miss drinking water target by years, CBC News survey
shows,” CBC News, November 2, 2020.
“Chippewas of Nawash is one of 41 communities
contacted by CBC News that are currently on Indigenous Services Canada's
long-term boil water advisory list. The community, located 57 kilometres
north of Owen Sound, Ont., hugs the southeastern tip of Georgian Bay and east
side of Lake Huron — some of the largest sources of freshwater in the country.
Its traditional name "Neyaashiinigmiing" means a point of land
surrounded on three sides by water — yet its members can't drink water from
The poets speak of water – amniotic, oceanic,
water they swim in, water they drink. A glass of water, “the unremarked and
neglected/ sentry at the top of place settings,” Rhona McAdam, “By the Glass.”
is a long straight road from Playfair to the soccer field. It cuts through my
neighbourhood. Life is a long road and on it you cut through your belief
systems to travel it. Don’t you? My son has low iron and he is vegetarian not
by choice but because of me. To not eat animals is a significant choice on the
path of helping the planet. But, we have a dog, and he is not vegetarian. Something
is cancelled out there. Oh humans, we are rich conundrums. How to choose to not
eat animals even still when my son’s iron levels are low? How to not sacrifice.
The doctor gives new iron supplement suggestions. I hang up the phone (we can’t
see our specialists in person right now). I drive him to school late. The car.
The iron. The animals. Water streaming down the street as the city clears the
hoses in the school field before freezing weather sets in.
walk the dog.
Parks department is trimming the Gary Oak outside my neighbour’s house. Is a
prayer said before they start? I wonder what they are more worried about, the
old senior limbs, the quaking interior going to rot, or the house, property
damage, cost. I take a photo. I give a bow to the tree as its limbs fall.
you read about the bird whose feet got entangled in a disposable face mask? How
do you feel about that, as a human? Probably fairly shitty? Myself, I throw my
arms up in the air, I fall back into a pile of leaves. In amongst the leaves are
cigarette butts, bits of plastic wrapper, a granola bar wrapper, empty pop can,
egg shells, an unopened kinder surprise, cellophane. Straws. Face masks. Dog
poop bags left on the curb. In Refugium, Brian Campbell writes, “Little
slithery ink ball,/ wings stuck. Bleats from a bird throat./ Low slow moan,”
did this. We do this. We keep doing this.
Melville believed the world was man’s oyster, believed humans would never hunt
out whales, there’d always be more of them. I said to my husband, “The world
was white, middle class man’s oyster. Where the women? Where the poor? Where
the animals in this equation?” So many of our ideas about mountains, streams,
trees, bears, fish, seagulls, birds come from Victorian ideals of things here
for our entertainment. We need a catastrophic change. One may have imagined
Covid 19 could be it, but 17 million mink killed suggests that we’ve not even
attempted to shift our world view. Yes, we are dying, this too is terrible.
poets wonder at their own survival. In Joe Zucchiatti’s poem the family has
stored their cabin’s water in “two repurposed, galvanized steel pails/ still
bearing the stickers from their previous life:/ SOLVIT: Professional Rat and
Mouse Killer.” It is funny, and yet I
pull the dog from roadside puddles glistening with rainbow runoff. Chernobyl,
walk the dog.
the next field, I release the dog, release his ball. It arcs across the sky.
The sky is blue, the day cold but bright. Rare here. The dog knows the
trajectory of the ball, that knowledge is in his DNA. And he does not ignore
what he knows, he follows, leaps, catches it mid-fall. There are things we know
we know, and yet, change is slow.
neighbourhood urban streets look rural from google earth. Treed. Green. Each
tree a canopy and each canopy bald from winter wind. The splayed lines of
branches echoed underground in root systems that draw their desire lines to
water. Water. Water.
dog is thirsty. Drinks from puddles at the base of the trees.
walk my dog. The streets interweave trails, trees, houses, Christmas
decorations are up, ditches run wild from rainstorms, branches litter from
wind. Big blue sky where we usually have grey rain. Frost. My thoughts are
little flying creatures. My rubber boots muddied; I am one endangered blue
Blomer is an award-winning poet, and author
of the critically acclaimed travel memoir Sugar Ride: Cycling from Hanoi to
Kuala Lumpur. Her most recent books of poetry include As if a Raven and
the anthologies Refugium: Poems for the Pacific and Sweet Water:
Poems for the Watersheds, which she edited for Caitlin Press. She is the
past Poet Laureate of Victoria, B.C. and lives, works and raises her family on
the traditional territories of the WSÁNEĆ (Saanich), Lkwungen (Songhees), Wyomilth (Esquimalt)
peoples of the Coast Salish Nation.