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We Who Hunted

Peter Christensen
From:   Winter Range. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Thistledown Press, 2001.

1. In This Little Valley

in this little valley
we are in a way
all married to each other
no one is anonymous
crimes of passion
mistaken identities
infractions of the wildlife act
are remembered and tallied in
the grand community ledger

when change threatens as change always does
some are filled with envy
others hate

the new arrivals all believe
they have 'discovered' this belated wilderness
where we have struggled
lived simply and fairly well
you can tell the renters from the owners
the first thing the buyers do
is nail up blood red NO TRESPASSING
signs to the trees and then
they build fences where no need exists

they have a need to defend territory
against others who seek the same solace
they have found and
like all colonizers once the fort is built
they become missionaries
act as if we who have lived here so long
are children

does this story sound familiar?
the oldest profession is colonization

I have become indifferent to these people
at times I resist or consider them fools
but I know there will
always be more
I will either learn to live with them or
go elsewhere

2. Keep Out

the little valley is filling up
with people who just got here
and want to keep others out

the more recent the arrivals
the more vocal they are
about keeping others out

they build barbed wire fences
where I used to walk or ride

sometimes the children of the valley
are sent away to urban schools
and when they return
they also put up signs
Strictly No Trespassing

and we who live here
wonder what they learned
about themselves that
they must now keep all others out

3. They Say

they say
that killing animals is wrong
unless sanctified by aboriginal claim
or the process of feedlots and abattoirs

they say
they have discovered The Valley
will save us from ourselves
they loudly lament the loss of the high country
while sinking basements and roads
into the winter range

at meetings
shake and furrow their brow
claim and profane their care
for the environment
seed hatred among us
quote Suzuki

they say
we should make doors and window frames
from what is left of the forests
get our meat at the fast food outlets
sit in our cars and eat

they will show us
how to live on the land

and like the industrialist's
their aggressive offspring
tear the fragile hills of the winter range
open to the weather with bikes and
All Terrain Vehicles

4. We Who Hunted

they say
we who hunted the bear elk and deer
must not hunt
because a percentage of householders
from town feel bad
about us killing animals

they say
the bear has an inherent right to live
that the bear is sacred
the bear is a renewable resource
the bear is an indicator species

they say
that the killing of bears is wrong
unless by the Conservation Officers of the Queen
in the name of
achieving the optimum sustainable population
or getting rid of garbage bears
or killing bears that are a nuisance
or have killed humans

and so that no one will profit
from this killing
like government surplus
the bear's body must go in the dump
but we who live on the land
know the bear is many things
and we know
we too are animals

Peter Christensen's works copyright © to the author.

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