by Brenda Wastasecoot
Far north of prairie skies and high above Eagle hovers, peering down at all the movement of life below. Down the flats by the rivers edge, With dusk approaching and colors fading, Dogs are heard howling in the nights beginning. Their howls echo the far away curfew siren in town, Every night they call back from down here, from down the flats. Their howls soften and fade into the soft tundra floor into dusty pink and yellow and white flowers blooming; into the graying tarpaper exteriors of houses, faded and softened from rain and sun and snow; into old outhouses standing wooden, unpainted, into the hand scrubbed clothes hanging on lines, dresses with fading floral patterns shirts, pants, and white long-johns now gleaming, as daylight dims, in the soft, warn breath of earth misting and rising into the cool evening air. Mosquitoes rise up from their hiding places, from the tall sweet grass, gold and swaying slowly in the gentle breeze, from out of shadows growing and stretching as the red sun lowers itself into the lilac and pink and crimson dance of the northerly flowing river; from under wild flowers that release their scents into the dusty haze of the wheat trains being emptied and poured into the waiting empty bellies of ships. The fragrance of river mud and dying fish lingers and wafts its way up mixing in with the reek of whale carcass farther down, just outside the village of houses exposed by the sinking tide, the shore line is dotted with families checking their hand made nets that hold some flapping, some lightly twitching, swimmers. Netting, tied down by carefully placed piles of rocks are outlined with empty plastic containers, their labels removed. Eagle hovers for a while longer, for her share of those fish, unwanted and tossed back as if in a way of thanks for the plentiful harvest. Later, as night begins to fall the windows are illuminated by oil lamps glowing brighter and brighter, with each new flicker from distant stars above, as the deepening, thickening blue of the northwest sky approaches. Flying northward, leaving the sweet warm perfume of fish frying and bannock baking and tea brewing, she makes out what appears to be a long shiny snake slowly bending and winding as it inches back down the railway south toward the trees. Eagle recognizes the salty sea air of the Hudson Bay, as she glides northward and westward to her nest of eaglets, gripping her catch from down the flats.