For Prescott and Cameron

Two First Nation girls
stare at the dragon pattern
on my water sandals,
       or the invisible webs
       between my Euro toes,
at the donut shop
in Fort Francis.

The reptile swirls recall
water falling from pulsing Loon,
blueberry lips of Black Bear,
and the dawn high latitude
rainbow buried in the Sky.

All the way to Red Lake,
stone cairns top the roadcuts
like post-glacial bandages,
suturing the taiga from Baffin
to Victoria—
stone figures made to resemble humans,
original landmarks,
tattoos to interpret the 200k lakes
and caribou circulation.

The alien acid air of the International border
burns the lungs with cabbage sludge
and chipped money,
paper mill counterfeit slurry pumped
across the Rainy River
in stainless tubes and treaties.

The natives at the end of the road
stumble through the light
like drawn ghosts,
a spider’s egg sack
hassled in the air
by bright yellow float planes.

The mine once smiled a full gold grin,
agape magnet for machines
and her Majesty’s mania.
Miner’s homes are for sale,
the golf course
holds back the fillings,
and the green Love Bug
gets polished in a breeze.

The rocks are warming
with friction, false gods,
and fabrications.
will not melt,
may topple,
easy to realign,
like a Mammoth spine
waiting for recovery.

—Rick McMonagle, Eugene, OR