UnRavelled – Poetry from Pierrette

Here’s a delightful poem, from a delightful colleague in poetry, Pierrette Requier. Pierrette is known in the poetry community for her elegance, an elegance of person and presentation that is enhanced by flashes of spice. She brings a particular voice, not simply because she works both in French and English, but because of the specific ways she uses those languages, rooted in our specific landscape.
One of my favourite memories of Pierrette is from 2009, when we each launched our first book of poetry with Frontenac Press (mine, Fifth World Drum, hers, Details From the Edge of the Village). Pierrette had a number of family members in the room, and they led us in providing a stomping, clapping rhythm section for one of her best poems of the night – it was a real glimpse of her boisterous, strong-willed rural clan, and of a distinctive Franco-Albertaine place and time.
This piece, though, she offered to the Poem Catcher in the very first few weeks it was at City Hall, a portrait of our city and of her more reverent, contemplative side. J’aime aussi Ravel,  et je trouve cette poeme vraiment ravissante, tout comme la vallée de la rivière en automne.

Unravelled

Ravel’s String Quartet in f

second movement

inches me down and across

to the North Side,

already late for a deadline.

Winter slept in this year,

just woke up to its shifty business

of snow-blowing snow,

car exhaust spewing fast and

furious as the wind gusts.

Flashing brake lights

the only flick-flick

of colour in this blustery

end of winter morning.

Grey sky hung over the river valley

with its stick trees:  bare poplars, sober spruce

prissy pines, and its bottle-necked wet road.

At the bottom of the hill

staid, stoic traffic lights

do their old fashioned work.

Green waves a slushy go,

amber flits one more car through,

red holds a gloved hand up.

And the river—

what brought settlement here

in the first place—

meanders on

its cold course.

Here on its banks

we still huddle, try to keep warm

eight months of the year.

Here where we have sprawled.

Hard to call this home

to have the heart for it

on this March morning.

© Pierrette Requier

Published in Writing the Land Alberta Through its Poets, Dymphny Dronyk and Angela Kublik, Editors, 2007, p. 58 & 59

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