A Child and His Mother Camp Out on a Cool Night
The child putting his hands together thinks his prayer is
like a pancake his mother has baked for him. She poured
batter on a hot stone and when the edges curled she folded
it and placed it between his fingers. And the pancake is
a flower folded at sunset, and the flower is a nest hidden
in a tree and the nest hung there in the sky is a dark star.
If you want light, his mother tells him, you must pray for
it. Shine this flashlight to your ear and it will brighten
the inside of your skull. You’ll see light through to the
forests of his mind, where birds sleep all night in their
nests in the trees and stars hang down from the branches
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From A Peeled Wand: Selected Poems of Anne Szumigalski (Signature Editions, 2011) with thanks to Anne Szumigalski’s estate.
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Anne Szumigalski was born in London, England and immigrated to Saskatchewan in 1951. She lived in Saskatoon for over forty years and was a major influence behind the vibrant literary activity in Saskatchewan. The author of sixteen books, including the post-humously published Fear of Knives, Anne won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 1995 for Voice, a collaboration with visual artist Marie Elyse St. George. She published nine collections of poetry including Woman Reading in Bath, Doctrine of Signatures, Dogstones and Rapture of the Deep. Over the years, Anne was the recipient of many major literary awards and prizes, including two Saskatchewan poetry awards, two Writers’ Choice Awards and two nominations for the Governor General’s Award and was honoured with the Saskatchewan Order of Merit and a Life Membership from the League of Canadian Poets. Anne’s passing in April 1999 was mourned by all those she had touched.