This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

September-October 2017

Ode to Northern Alberta

Poetry by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Billy-Ray Belcourt@BillyRayB

after joshua jennifer espinoza

here, no one is birthed
only pieced together.
i tire myself out
pretending to have a body.
everyone worships feelings
they don’t have names for
but no one is talking about it.
love is a burning house we built from
love keeps us busy while the smoke clears.
history lays itself bare
at the side of the road
but no one is looking.
history screams into the night
but it sounds too much like the wind.
cree girls gather in the bush
and wait for the future.
in the meantime
they fall in love with the trees
and hear everything.
in the 1950s
my not-yet mooshum ran away
from a residential school
in joussard, alberta.
as an adult
he kept coming back
despite knowing
heaven is nowhere near here

Billy-Ray Belcourt is from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He is a PhD student in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. He is a 2016 Rhodes Scholar and holds an M.St. in Women's Studies from the University of Oxford. His debut collection of poems, This Wound is a World, is out with Frontenac House in September 2017

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