Poem: ‘From Above after F. R. Scott’ by Philip Thatcher

Poem: ‘From Above after F. R. Scott’ by Philip Thatcher

From Above
after F. R. Scott
 
That is when you see it
how water pervades this land
 
From a single propeller Beaver low
over Johnstone Strait, over the
sounds and inlets reaching into
sheer coastal rock before touching
down so, so deftly
on the Kingcome River
 
Coming out of Inuvik, the Mackenzie Delta
below a maze of ponds, channels
a labyrinth of passage and dead ends
looking for that Ariadne thread
as westward the east slope of the
Richardson Mountains marks where
the last ice age came to a stop
 
Flying west from Fort Simpson to the
South Nahanni River and its falls,
above the myriad lakes below
and eastward from Yellowknife
into Nunavut, then west again over
lake upon lake, the blue of each
alight at the ending of the day
 
Rising out of Cape Dorset and looking
north into Baffin Island, lakes spreading
across the wet earth, into the wet earth
northward, southward
three million of them
configuring this land
 
On the night flights high above
an inkling of the Voyageur canoes
that once travelled far below,
the long stretches of opening water
and the portages well known,
sensing down into the darkness
how water holds this land together
how water prepares the way
into this land and away from it
 
An early spring flight westward over
the Davis Strait. Below a mesh of ice
breaks south toward Newfoundland
as its bergs begin to emerge
and a flight eastward through
a long summer night, from the north
side of the plane
At the horizon
the mouth of a great river empties
into what lies beyond the horizon
Above its flow the sun that does
not set floods open
spills down
into the long summer night
an effulgence of water
an intimation of fire
 
Philip Thatcher, August 2021