Bush Men by Bradley McIlwain

Bush Men--McIlwain
Original photo by Bradley McIlwain

(for R.D.)

river rushes north
along aged Indian

trails cupping hands
with scout guides

and ghosts of foreign
navigators once lost

among mosquito marsh
and dense brush, asking

sustenance from
unforgiving earth

plucking berries
you picked in autumn

before she turned
gold to silver and

mud brown—the
end of hunting

and the creation of
renewed paths, when

beauty paved the road to
harshness, we gathered

dancing in deer skins, to
the sacred drum, hoping

to find the heartbeat that
remained
_________________________
Bradley McIlwain is a Canadian-based writer and poet who lives and works in rural Ontario as a freelance reporter, covering stories on local heritage, the arts, and human interest. The narratives in his poetry often stem from a desire to paint the natural world around him, and exploring its intimate connection with memory. In addition to the classics, he enjoys reading the work of M.G. Vassanji, Gregory Scofield, and Tom MacGregor. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours, from Trent University, with a major in English Literature. His first book of poems, Fracture, is now available. You can also find his poetry on YouTube, or by visiting his blog. Mr. McIlwain has published with WIZ previously.

5 thoughts on “Bush Men by Bradley McIlwain”

  1. I’ve commented privately that this one has something of a Williamsesque spareness to it, a narrative poem (sort of) told in a chain of foreshortened haikus, so the images that constitute the story are like breaths or flexions.

  2. Thanks Jonathon, I love your description that the images in the narrative act as a kind of breath, which close to the style and themes I like to explore in my poetry. I’m constantly experimenting imagism and narrative, with each word or description evoking one of the senses to trigger individual meaning and experience for the reader.

  3. This poem reflects something that I feel a lot. To live in a place and not be in touch with all the ancient “stuff,” people, landscape, environment, is not really to live in a place, I think. Modern life has changed things drastically for us–with large scale agriculture and other conveniences we aren’t forced to be in touch with our natural surroundings, and we don’t notice or think often of the people who lived here hundreds or thousands of years before us.

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