Al Purdy, once camped with his wife
on these same battlefields of Batoche,
claimed he heard voices in the grass,
though Eurithe, of much soberer disposition,
ascribed the voices to Purdy's penchant
for musing aloud and hearing only
those things he wished to hear.
We all try hard to listen and see:
the eyes encompass it with time –
bullet holes, rifle pits, grave sites,
Middleton's zareba, vantage points;
the ears in time discern sounds –
the westerly stirring the grasses,
turning poplar leaves, the sharp whistle
of ground squirrel, coarse crow chatter,
faint intrusion of a distant aircraft.
But it is voices we all want –
Purdy's voices or any others.
Each of us. This is what we
secretly desire: voices
that will speak to us
in a language that is
From And Left a Place To Stand On, Poems
& Essays on Al Purdy (Hidden Brook Press 2009)