The problem with us is the east arm
of Great Slave Lake.  For too long
we have been as perfunctory as riverbanks,
certain of the lower places, the mud
that creeps like chinking into joints between the stones.
Red-throated loons have lately pushed
into our conversations with the authority
of boulders collared with gneiss.
When it's been weeks since we've spoken,
from innumerable islands we hear
the pitch of flightless black spruce.

The water in the arm is confused with rocks,
a fever of bays and peninsulas that long ago
lost any memory of shoreline, of Precambria,
a homeland where things had not yet cooled.
The arm is something started and then stopped.
An agriculture of cold, of growing out of touch
and back upon itself like bones that lose direction
after breaking, it is thinking that is poorly drained,
a mess of undecided lakes, granite and trees
half soaked, our plans, retreating pike
in unlocked schools.

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