I have known the pristine world. Seen with the new eyes of a child.
A little girl in a sunsuit and bonnet puddles in the sand by the shore. It is a high summer day. The blue, blue lake’s lap bursts bubbles between her toes. She falls out of the world into silence and a dream of light. Reflections are marbling the shape of water. She is amazed.
Until age nine, I spent July and August in the Muskoka Lakes, then grew into my strength at summer camp; learning skills that made me feel at home in the woods and on water. The memory of a cedar stump’s fragrance burning in the night brings me joy: the flames sparking the pines, while guides’ told tales of trapping. Bears. I can still feel the wind in my sails and the perfect grip of my very own George paddle.
As I climbed over mountains, one at a time, mentors said, push the boundaries but not the river. “Don’t Push The River” by Barry Stevens, becomes one of many bibles for the future.
Another way to fall out of the world comes to me decades later. At sixty years of age I take up exploration. I travel to the High North. Not only because North is three latitudes above the 49th parallel where I come from, but because I am longing for the roofless world, for maps with no names, for dependable rock. I give up my keys, my passport, my wallet. I witness how the world re-makes itself in the loop between the life and death of ice: how I have changed.
I had wanted to suckle the light
and land to mirror my desires
and the daily bread of beauty
given to please my eye
I had wanted to take my grief in small bites
yet it is on record that the Twin Glaciers
at Alexandra Fjord are uncoupled now
and walking inland; cycles
once linked are breaking.
I stand on the threshold
of wind born calamity
ice-lock caving to rain,
high tech toxins in Inuit milk.
Not only the birds see
how maps are redrawing whitest habitat
in brown and blue.
Clewes is an alumna of the Banff Writing Studio (2005) and the Sage Hill Writing Experience, Saskatchewan (2006).
She is a member of The League of Canadian Poets and The Ontario Poetry Society.
As alumna, The Bishop Strachan School in Toronto invited her to teach in their Outdoor Education Program in Algonquin Park, Ontario, where she introduced 120 students to Thule Explorer: Kayaking North of 77 Degrees (2009).
Rosemary was interviewed on Open Book Toronto, as part of their Poets in Profile interviews.