Capitachouane, Saskatchewan: tchewan means river.
But capita- tasse de thé, like glaucotomous Tom Brown
swore in slurred sawmill French in the wobbly bar-car?
I pictured his ponderously drunk bulk hunched over
some pre-Columbian infusion, gnat-ridden respite
from knee-numbing hours down the river.
I wondered: could the next tchewan over indeed be
where he said trappers piss in December, a amber
stain in the vein of white water turned to ice
— an Amerindian kenning? Algonquin would
then have words for morning mist over water,
wafting aura of the Tchewan-Geist to whom
we poor, upright, wide-eyed humans in the smoky
clearing on the sandy bank smell metallic, sour,
agglutinations for concentric rings beaten out by moths
fallen on the smooth shoulder of the tchewan, symmetry
in the midst of plenty which takes us all in like pike.
But hadn’t cunning Tom Brown smiled then spoken English
to his son, the same urchin who’d sat on the styrofoam
ice-chest in front of the coke sign watching us load the iron-horse
with our fiberglass birchbarks, our nylon backpacks
chock-full of dehydrated fruit, glucose and peanut butter?