Elena Johnson: Three Poems

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.

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