Tallest Objects   Wildflowers one knuckle high. Mammals the width of a hand gather bouquets in their mouths, pile them in havens between stones.   Each human gesture weighted with layers of fleece and wool, zippers and eider-down.   A kilometre above sea-level, we are the tallest objects bent by the wind.   Wide-legged gait of researchers. The hunch at day’s end, over the kitchen table that is a series of planks.   On evenings that aren’t wind and rain, we form a loose circle. Chew false tobacco, spit it red onto the rocks outside the cook-tent’s silvery dome.       View from Pika Creek    Three small figures hike slowly upstream, bent forward with the weight of their packs.   From here, they seem to move noiselessly – the creek lilts over the stones.   Map pointed toward the next valley they begin to amble upward, cloud-bound, over the scree.     Hiking Out   Pack on my back, poles in my hands, quadruped.   Neoprened and water-proofed, my boots soaked through. Petal of a buttercup pasted to one toe.   The first tall shrub seems a caribou. A sparrow rests in its antlers – antlers that sway and dip.   By mid-day I’m loose-legged, limbing down the spongy slope.   The white fox of fog curls around me, muffles the map.   Two sandpipers clear the brook’s edge, where I tilt my bottle in.
Elena E. Johnson’s first book of poetry will be published by Gaspereau Press in Spring, 2015. Her writing has been nominated for the CBC Literary Awards and the Alfred G. Bailey Prize. Her poetry has appeared in journals across Canada, including Arc and The Fiddlehead, as well as four anthologies. These three poems were written during her time as writer-in-residence at a remote Yukon research station, and will be included in her forthcoming book.