publishing poetry only

Monday's Poem

Taylor Leedahl photo


© 2010 Shelley A. Leedahl

Shelley A. Leedahl is a fulltime, multi-genre writer who divides her time between Middle Lake, Saskatchewan and Edmonton, Alberta.
   Shelley has been the recipient of a number of national and international Fellowships. In 2009 she was a Fellow at Fundacion Valparaiso, in Mojacar, Almeria, Spain. In 2006 she was awarded both the Wallace Stegner Grant for the Arts (Eastend, SK) and a Fellowship to attend the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences in Georgia (US). In 2004 she was a Fellow at the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers (Scotland), and in 2002/2003 she was one of five Canadian writers selected for the Canada-Mexico Writing/Photography Exchange in Mérida (Mexico) and Banff.
    Her poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction is frequently anthologized and broadcast on CBC Radio. Her latest title is The House of the Easily Amused(poetry, Oolichan Books, 2008). Aside from writing, Shelley is a long distance runner, a passionate gardener, and the mother of two adult children. For more info, see her pages at The Writers' Union of Canada and at The League of Canadian Poets.


You did not know I had taken it,
master of the one-armed side-shot I've become.

                          You were so reverent
on our rock-blistered ramble, hillside sharing
of mule deer, your friends
                    the red-tailed hawks.

And a teepee ring.

And your favourite fallen aspen
in the thicket. White it was, at one end seething
with ants. You excel
                             at the surreptitious.

I could not stop needing
to feel the callus of lichen
on stones, purple and orange, like starfish,

     a strawberry birthmark
on the cheek of a girl you adored.

What the camera wouldn't memorize.

                           Below us, town
a table spread for a picnic, potato salad,
and every countenance
                I've ever known.

Bird trill. Small feet
learning the mechanics of bike pedals
and flight. Postures on the corner
near the post office, across from a sign
for soft ice cream. The slow snow
of cotton. Nothing moved quickly
                                   or rose above
a mower's mellifluous hum, the maternal shush
of river beneath the arched bridge
where I have stood too long growing older
            and knowing ever less.

We both see where I'm headed
in this photo—furrowing eyes, neck pleats—
but it's more than the skin's undoing. I'm in love with

the welt of sun on the back of your hand,
the frayed collar, the vague shape of Italy
between profiles.

                     Behind us, sky
the blue of a newborn's fingernail.
Buffalo wallows.

In the wind-sweep of grass, yellow wildflowers
attempt to compose themselves
          and burn
                     low to the ground.

It could have been a blur.
                          I might have missed
the fraction of the moment that mattered most.

Sometimes I stumbled. You, occasionally, ran.