Wresting Place

This poem was originally sent to me back in my first year of Laureatage, by a longtime colleague, Dr. Don Perkins, with whose classes i’ve shared a fair few poetic adventures over the years. I’ve come to appreciate his quick, incisive mind and wry humour.

These thoughtful verses address a very Edmonton controversy, namely, what to do to properly honour those buried in a cemetery down in Rossdale. This cemetery goes back to the days of Edmonton House, when First Nations and European immigrants first worked together in the pursuit of commerce and prosperity – strangely, the graveyard has been “lost” and “rediscovered” time and again since then.

Thanks, Don, for the original, and for this excellent revision.                                   

 

Wresting Place 

The fight goes on  

over our bones and souls

allowed no peace:

Interred. Outcast.

Forgotten. Buried from

public memory

by public expedience.

Dug up. Disturbed.

Disturbing. Discarded.

Dishonoured.

 

In life useful to the trade.

In death granted token sanctuary

under an alien monument

on Native soil.

In the way

of growth

of prosperity

of development

of traffic

Not planned for, planned around and

over, under the crossroads

beside the power station

outside the ball park

beyond consideration.

 

Inconveniently rediscovered

on a regular basis, proclaimed

a curiosity and surprise

no legacy or heritage–

easier forgotten again;

“remembered” is a nuisance.

 

And once again recalled,

returned to knowledge

officially memorialized

as the politic thing to do,

with minimum public disruption

and no easy access:

 

But now harder to forget, to

cover up one more time.

 Don Perkins: 17 July 2013 version

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