As we prepared this issue, people in Saskatchewan and the rest of Canada were entering into the darkest days of winter. But now, as the issue has reached the newsstands and mailboxes, the days are already lengthening.
Snowlight, this issue’s theme, is a word coined to enjoy the gleam of the bright winter light of sun reflected off snow or the soft, mellow light under cloud cover. I wanted the theme to be as hopeful as Inuit artist Cee Pootoogook’s dancing bear is cheerful. To remember what we have instead of what we do not. To celebrate one another in this journey of writing and making art.
The polar bear, or Nanuk, in Inuktitut, is revered for its fortitude, strength and skill as a master hunter. It is also as a powerful shamanic figure with the powers of transformation. That is also what a good story or poem can do¾transport the reader into the author’s world and imagination.
So, curl up in the snowlight and be transported.
POEM FOR A FRIEND TRAVELLING [Excerpt] | Randy Lundy
We are each a door or
a window, open wide—
everything enters, passes
through, and out the other
side, except like plastic
shopping bags caught in
the branches of trees
some things snag, catch
and take hold and stay.
SON OF THE FATHER [Excerpt] | Deb Stark
“He refused the offer, Donnie.”
I couldn’t have heard her right. It’s one of the first warm days in April and the barn fans are on high. I’m leaning over a loud milking machine, attaching it to a young cow. I turn to my mother, noticing again how thin she seems. This round of chemo is definitely taking a toll. “Who? Dad? What offer?”
Her eyes widen. She’s still not answering. “What offer, Mom?”
“The feed company offered to settle. Provided we drop our lawsuit, of course.”
My gut knots. The cow beside me shifts nervously. I stroke her and try to figure out what to say next. What to do next.
DECOY [Excerpt] | Michael Trussler
Poetry is an artifact of the world that has ended.
Michael Robbins, “A Conversation About Trees”
Hard to disagree. An extinct word-ivore. An improvised glass
sutra sodden as Mylar’s hybridity but inert. As shape-shifting
as unintended original sin. Therefore nothing, really. Therefore
now becoming a hobby-store-rocket word that stalls mid-air
WE NEVER SAID WILD [Excerpt] | Chelsea Coupal
The fish prep shift started the earliest: 6:30 a.m. On those days, we often walked the forty-five minutes to work. The buses didn’t run that early and they didn’t let visitors drive. The sunrise stained the sky the pink of the island’s plumeria. Inside the dockyard were three small lagoons that housed thirteen Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins. The oldest was large and dark grey. Her name was Cirrus, a retired U.S. Navy dolphin, trained to look for mines underwater. She had a fat three-year-old calf, Luna, who still followed her around to nurse.
Each dolphin ate a certain diet. We weighed frozen herring, capelin, squid, and sardines. Sorted it into silver buckets for the day. Nursing moms ate the most; nursing calves—even big ones like Luna—ate the least. The trainers carried portions out throughout the day in small, red picnic coolers. The dolphins bobbed in the water like corks, eyeing the buckets, whistling.
THE SHARPSHOOTERS [Excerpt] | Alexander Slusar
Two Ford cruisers left Regina and drove northeast into a pale blue winter morning. They coursed down the highway; dark asphalt cloaked in snowfall had hardened overnight into a fine crust and sparkled in the nascent dawn light. They turned off the highway onto a grid road and headed south. The vehicles, with their round black shells, white roofs, and R.C.M.P. door stencils, looked like strange beetles burrowing and weaving up and down snowy gravel. Tires kicked up hard white powder and frosted the undercarriages as they skittered along the plains.