Turnstone Press

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Twisted on top of a stack of granite and limestone boulders are S-s-sam and S-s-sara. The pair of snakes are made of rich green and yellow tiles and were built in 1985. Every spring, Inwood Manitoba comes alive as tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes emerge from their winter hibernation.
There are so many snakes that in some places, it feels like the ground is breathing. Narcisse Snake Dens is an international, natural phenomenon that hosts the world's largest collection of snakes in one location. The park has beautiful packed gravel walking trails that wind through natural prairie and trembling aspens. You can choose how close you want to get to the snakes. So, even the most hesitant of visitors can brave and experience this yearly event.
Look for where limestone pits meet dry prairie and you'll see countless snakes surface and mate, before heading to their summer homes. Make sure you stop and listen as you witness hundreds of snakes moving along the sun-kissed rocks. Professor Bob Mason, from the University of Oregon, has been studying snakes for the past
35-years. His specialty is animal reproduction. Though the garter snakes are small, Mason said this is how larger snakes like anacondas and pythons also mate. Here at Narcisse, there are so many snakes that they form 'mating balls' - large groups of males all fighting for the attention of a single, larger, female. He says they come from around the world to study this spectacle. Along highway #17 there are small green barriers and culverts strung alongside the road. These snake friendly paths were built by the community to direct the animals away from the highway and save almost 20,000 snakes a year. The snake pits are a great way place to have a picnic and kick-off your summer activities.

Tall and proud on the rocky shore of Lake Winnipeg stands the Viking. A tribute to New Iceland and the Icelandic settlers that helped to develop the town of Gimli and the surrounding area, he's an impressive and powerful sight to behold.
The park he calls home is full of trolls, hidden people, and secret messages.
Paving stones wind around him stamped with family names and runic messages that only the most curious, intrepid visitors can solve. Nestled under the great Viking is a small fairy garden full of Manitoba wildflowers, each one carefully chosen and planted in hopes of attracting butterflies-- and fairies. If you look closely you might just see a fairy house or hear the giggling of the mischievous Huldufólk that live in town. The Viking's park is surrounded by giant boulders representing the volcanic environment of Iceland and are meant to be climbed, sat on, and explored. But be careful, as boulders are where trolls live. Make sure you do not wake one of the sleeping giants.
On your way to explore more of Gimli--its historic New Iceland buildings and seaside attractions--take a walk along the small, beaten path that leads you past Betel Personal Care Home to the main beach. This is the breakwater. Constructed in 1957 to prevent shoreline erosion, it protected the settlement from the strong currents of the lake and once marked the edge of town. Since then, Gimli has built up the ground and stretched beyond the breakwater, establishing the large park of the Viking. A special space on the shoreline that has come to represent the town, Viking Park is central to Gimli's Islendigadagurinn, the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, a yearly event celebrating Icelandic culture in Manitoba. In 2017 the festival revamped the park to ensure its draw for future generations.
The Viking is a storyteller.
Spend the afternoon exploring all he has to say and try to find the clues hidden within Viking Park. Gimli is a unique, magical place where everyone can find their inner Viking, eat amazing food, and learn about the impressive Icelandic history in Canada.

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Death Becomes Us
Excerpt

A Sense of Direction

 

Compass points

 

The music rattled
and shook the radio while
a crowd of people talked
I watched your eyes
like laser points
track me down
with a view
to paralyze

my mind wandered
to my afternoon bike ride
gusts of wind from the north
made mountains
of the plains

the sense of your lips
on mine a sudden diversion
of my attention
and I am surprised
with the newness of a world
that senses the gentle
caress of the wind

north is only north
you whispered
when you know
which way the river flows

Meet me at the church at midnight

dancin' in the heat of the
parking lot
dancing in the soft hazy
silvery air
we're dancing to the radio
billie jean from the car
music filters through the
nectar of the night
rumbles over us and bursts through
honeysuckle air

semi trailers bump and bruise
their bulk they bounce
a beat to match the bass
staccato note from the grind of the
distant train
brushes our bodies bumps
me into you
sparks form in the air
heavier now with pockets of cool
fireflies flicker now here now
distant
flashes of light in rhythm
to our dancing
painting the sky
close around us now
air vivified with the earth's sweet
sweat a current thick
we slink and slide inside
the summer's salt and
laugh wave
to the man in the moon
harvest moon
his full flat face
looking down
you laugh
looking up
the man in the moon sheds a lonely tear
lands on my cheek
you
brush it away
turn up the music
just so
we dance

Break & enter

The door is unlocked
so it can hardly be called a
break & enter

now you are here
sitting on the couch
feet on the table
you drop crumbs

so this is it
staring me in the face
love a presence
in my space

you water the plants
in my absence

your farts linger
in the air
smell of your sweat
tickles my nose
in the bedroom

I open the windows
in the coldest of winter

Sunday in July

I dip my toes into pools
of sun glowing in the grass
shadow serpents
tickle my soles

I tilt my head
into your chest
drift in the space between
the beats of your heart
steady as if
time could be tamed

clouds in the sky
now form into an owl
curl about and now
perhaps mittens or
an ice cream cone
melting
into the breeze

I fall asleep
my head resting just so
your fingers tapping a drum solo
in my hair
kittens' paws whisper
in the flower beds

when I wake
heat has pressed in
the clouds have thinned
sun dapples and dances
swaddles us in
these soft grasses

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Cattail Skylines
Excerpt

How Far Can We Follow

Hague Ferry

The ferry's a hidden thing, only half believed in
until the road dives into the sudden valley.
Density of dogwood and chokecherry
to right and left, and a warning: Test Brakes.
We've left the upper world, gone down
to where the sky has borders.

A sheet-metal raft, four cars square.
An engine to propel, cable to guide
below the ceiling of canola fields.
The ferryman's silent, hardly seen:
the gesture of a single chain,
a signal to bring us on.

Lanigan Creek

Swaying on cattails, the blackbirds--
yellow-headed, red-winged--see it all:
their domain and one intruder.
I side-step down the bank, crouch low.
Blackbirds whistle. I wait.

Flickers of movement: footprints
dimple the surface of the stream.
Bubbles rise from mud, slivers of light
pierce green water. Mottled brown
shifts against brown. Red and blue
needles stitch the air. Coiled spires
of shells glide flat-footed,
infinitely slow.

Below the cattail skyline, time
becomes elastic. The silence hums.

Grass tickles my back. I am
invisible as a mountain.

Fort Carlton

Everyone knows it's a buffalo rubbing stone,
that boulder on top of the hill.
This is where the bison came
to scratch their behinds, massage
their woolly shoulders. Not rough like a tree,
but stronger. They could lean hard,
rub the itches out. Hey, look,
says one of the boys, the ground's
hollowed out all around it. That's from their hoofs.
You mean hooves, a girl corrects him.

We know about glaciers from school.
We know they left rocks in odd places. Erratics,
the book called them. Eccentrics.
Strangers amid the grass
and willows.

The rock is chest-high on us.
We hoist ourselves up, sit here in the sun.
We pick at the dark stuff clinging to it,
argue whether moss or lichen. Pretend to believe
these are hundred-year-old bits of hair
from the very last of the buffalo.

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Nostalgia for Moving Parts
Excerpt

The Child is Still Kin

 

 

Child's pose

Both hands spread to feel the floor,
the child I am is still kin to carpet,
tile, dust-drift beneath cupboards.

 

The child I am spreads forearms
along this coolness, taking in
how much the floor gives and resists.

 

She curls into her kneecaps, warm
familiars, pressing into the small
dark made by her greying head.

 

The tops of her feet flat against
the ground, the child I remain
makes herself hummock, hill, barrow

 

full of the self's jewels, small spine
a path from darkness to darkness,
arms twin tree roots cradled in earth.

 

If I can be brave

I love to lie on the rust-orange carpet by
the shiny floor that stops at the heat vents,
black slats like little venetian blinds.
I peer between them. Can I see the basement?
Can I hear Grandma and Grandpa talking?

 

 

I slide along the varnished floor in sock feet,
turn and creep down the basement stairs.
If I face it, the darkness, if I can be brave,
Grandma will give me a glass of 7UP
and scratch my back on the green and white
brocade couch and let me watch every last
minute of The Lawrence Welk Show.

 

Let me make it through the black basement
kitchen, then run into the living room. Lamps
will be on. Grandpa will smoke a pipe in his
brown leather chair. Grandma's hair will shine
in its perfect silver waves. Everything will
be safe, blanket-cozy, almost-bedtime good.

 

Un-sister

The un-sister who barely came to be
in this world stayed in God's mind
with the un-roses: red almond-shaped shadows.

 

I dream her idling about the un-garden
with all the un-born, bodiless smiles
painted on the airless atmosphere

 

of the vast un-place of the un-made,
faux perfection of the un-tried and un-spoken.
I hold up my hand of flesh, bathed

 

in particle waves of material light.
It cannot close around nothing.
We're always bearing handfuls of atoms.

 

Even when very still and thinking
of my un-living sister among the haze
of un-created flowers, matter sparks.

 

Light dances across synapses in the mind's
dark, where everything imagined
has its name, its own small electric body.

The horse is a cathedral

When I was tiny and afraid of everything,
I still wanted horses. The merry-go-round
was an embodied swirl of everything
inside me: roundness, heaviness, smooth
hooves, necks arched and settled into
elegant skulls with coal-of-fire eyes.

 

Even horses' nostrils opened and shut
with strength, with rushing intent. Across
their broad backs and taut haunches spread
the finery: false gold and silver, painted
brocade, lacquer-leather, riot of faux luxury.

 

A horse is a cathedral of a beast, its
central nave and side chapels buttressed
in holy proportions, its bell tower set
with eyes, its mane pennons streaming.
An assemblage of disks and spheres,
planes and pulleys, vivified into anti-

 

gravity glory: the pressure, the pound
of galloping, pulling away and away from
earth like pushed blood, heart's hoofbeats.
The first photographers captured the horse,
harnessed the heft, the muscular curl

of it in midair, four hooves hovering
in a knot above the ground: emblems,
heraldic angels, seraphim packed tight
into their bodies and sent down to run,
to make the dusty earth a pulsing drum.

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