Dr. William Henry Drummond Poetry Contest 2016
First Place: Leaving Chibougamau by Wendy Jean MacLean
The cycles of rabbits seem to run about every ten years
and the changes in town seem about the same.
There are seasons for rabbits
multiplying, this year more than others
they are bold in their mating and birthing, Phil said,
as he toasted the end of another good year.
We would be leaving soon, packing our car
with the things we couldn't sell or buy —
stories and jokes, a stretched beaver pelt,
good boots, a parka to leave in the attic
when we moved to the desert
Phil would be leaving too, not by choice
as the night’s toasts and his generous words
collided on the road from Chapais.
I bring Labrador tea to the funeral
a forest’s blessing, a toast from the woods
where the seasons change and the creatures do their arithmetic
adding and subtracting life
this year, more than others.