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61° 11' 12" N 124° 30' 59" W

Above the treeline on the knuckled ridges of the sprawled plateau, laid down like a worked hand, I was walking off grief, walking the high muskeg, the rim of a glacial lake that once filled the valley, where now the river, a stranger, 1,500 metres below, took my picture. If I had it still, you could see I'd almost disappeared. You could see the plateau, its squarish sail, an afterlife looming, but taking on a hazy cyanosis as light turned its shoulder. The lake, ten thousand or so years away. Our last phone call not quite disconnected. I was walking far behind Barry and John. Heavy pack, tippy boulders, Dall lambs already running at top speed, owning the high country. We took down one hunting blind, scattered the stones, walked through the jet trails and the thin slips of streams.

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~South Nahanni River


61° 52' 31" N 126° 38' 42" w

Maybe, he says, the body is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of what's been displaced. We're talking erosion and forgiveness. Silt load a food thick, swamps the dryas flats, dropped by the creek that boots a shifty ditch through the water-moved plain, now woollen and doped. In the tent, we miss the valley fog's lynx prowl, its soft-pedalled synth pads. The topo, he says, has this creek mislabelled. Three valleys back, the Secret Lakes pour their stiff drinks. When we look out, trees, cliffs, epochs of buckled crust have disappeared. The soft nightlight, swollen and cried out, floats us in creek sound, damp scent of yarrow and spruce bark, big hooves floundering up a siltbank, creek lifting what it can, till sleep bears up its load.

~South Nahanni River

Special to The Globe and Mail

From DEEPWATER VEE by Melanie Siebert, published by McClelland & Stewart. Copyright © 2010 by Melanie Siebert. Reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Melanie Siebert's DEEPWATER VEE was a finalist for the 2010 Governor General's Award for Poetry. For more information, please visit

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