Her Mark (from Hard Light)
I, Ellen Rose of Western Bay in the Dominion of Newfoundland. Married woman, mother, stranger to my grandchildren. In consideration of natural love and affection, hereby give and make over unto my daughter Minnie Jane Crummey of Western Bay, a meadow garden situated at Riverhead, bounded to the north and east by Loveys Estate, to the south by John Lynch’s land, to the west by the local road leaving countrywards. Bounded above by the sky, by the blue song of angels and God’s stars. Below by the bones of those who made me.
Ellen X Rose
Newfoundland and Labrador seems to undulate at the eastern edge of Canada like a myth: the row houses of St. John’s overlook the ocean that from time-to-time seethes with anger; the eastern coast of Labrador is the shore for seal carcasses, cause of death unknown; Labrador West disappears into Quebec as quickly as you can say iron ore; and a lone polar bear vanishes into the water off the coast of St. Anthony, while Gros Morne watches majestically and then disappears in a fog. One writer who I deeply admire, whose love of language and appreciation of landscape never ceases to inspire, whose meditations on culture and the mythology of memory is Michael Crummey. This short prose narrative illustrates the theme of work and the power of landscape that has shaped a people. Like Ellen Rose, my grandfather never did learn how to write. He could write two words only—his name—and all that is left of him in my house is his dictionary where he signed his name in ink around the time of Confederation, around the time my father was born. In a province like this where the work culture has left us little free time, the writing, just like the people, has been shaped and in some cases defined by the landscape, what it has given us but also what it has taken away.
Kerri Cull, originally from Corner Brook, NL, has had the pleasure of studying under John Steffler, Randall Maggs, Mary Dalton, and Stephanie McKenzie. After completing a Master of Arts at Memorial University in 2004, she worked mainly in radio and print media, and spent a lot of time taking in the music and words of the St. John’s arts scene before moving to Labrador City where she teaches, writes and tries to stay warm. Soak, her debut poetry collection, will be released in 2012 by Breakwater Books.