Rosemary Griebel's "Walking with Walt Whitman Through Calgary's Eastside on a Winter Day"

by Shaun Hunter


Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers

South Bank of the Bow River near the Langevin Bridge, December 30, 1954 (Photo: Glenbow Museum)

South Bank of the Bow River near the Langevin Bridge, December 30, 1954 (Photo: Glenbow Museum)

The poet walks through Calgary’s downtown east side on a bitter winter afternoon. The 19th century American poet, Walt Whitman is on her mind, and his Leaves of Grass, poems that celebrate the world. Beside her, the Bow River “churns and smokes/as the city rumbles, economy chokes and bundled homeless/build cardboard homes in the snow.” In this bleak, frigid landscape where “crystal/meth is more common than a leaf of grass,” the poet reaches for Whitman’s “relentless cheer” and his “great capacity for wonder.”

 

There I quaffed the sharp chiseled air, the slow, sad light

of merciless winter and said, yes, this world is for my mouth forever…

And I am in love with it.

Yes.

 

Rosemary Griebel, Yes (Frontenac House, 2011)