Canmore smokeless coal afforded war destroyers their
stealth. Stealthier. Carved out coal beds,
the town eroded like a cough strip-mines and deepens.
The mine was shuttered in the seventies.
An open-mouthed, boomerang valley. The Olympic Luge
was going to save it all, they said,
but the price was dear. Up on that peak, it’s coiled and asleep.
They used it for that film about
the Jamaican bobsled team, Cool Runnings.
Now the wealth is folks clamoring in who aren’t allowed
to buy a home in Banff. They come to ski
or hunt and try to stay–royalty, celebrities, you name it.
But you have to own business in town.
One woman, a doctor, schemed and plotted: promised
she’d open a medical office. Council said yes.
She bought a chalet up the side of a hill, leased a storefront on Buffalo,
placed a desk and phone inside, and never crossed
the threshold again. A bitter pill.
They filmed Brokeback Mountain on the Three Sisters. Little Big Man.
See those rocks there, those fingers
of rock like ribs? They say it’s a man reclined. The Edge was filmed
up on that range. A terrible film, we can agree.
Alec Baldwin, his grimace and spittle crescendos, beseeching
Sir Anthony Hopkins: How the fuck are we
going to get out of this hell hole? At the producers’ free screening
for the residents, we screamed: Look behind,
you idiot! At the highway!
They dug animal tunnels beneath the road, like a coillery, and paved
animal bridges above. Cougars stalk their prey
from the bridges. Stealthy, they are. Chain-link along the road
discourages animals, but doesn’t completely repel.
Years ago, the big fire cut us off from Banff. Wilder than anything Hollywood
could dream—smoke hurling bears, wolves, elk
out of the woods–Ursus jaws, saber teeth, antlers, nautilus claws,
fur for miles, pummeling the fence,
droving their own hearts into the wire.
- Published in Geist, April 2015
- Published in Best Canadian Poetry 2014
- Published in Maisonneuve, December 2013 (subscription required)
- In Sharps