Gatineau Trails

You say the woods like the woods can be anywhere in the world; 
used in this way the outdoors becomes an all-encompassing monolith

of leisurely otherness for char-grills and picnics. Maybe you know
how to survive outdoors—the whole world over! Not these woods

I say, these woods are specifically from here. All the woods are different. 
Trees everywhere are remembering. Where I was born in now-Alberta

the forests belonged to tricksters. They’ve been fought over many times;
each caretaker more cunning than the last. Every place has dead bodies.

Alberta burns its millions in a final attempt at genocide. 
                                                         Where Kookum retired

on the other side of the mountains, the woods sing a rich, mournful song.
Sometimes a big wave of sadness comes crashing through the trees

who miss the ocean (but not that much). In spots along the coast
you can find primordial ghosts glittering in the canopy. Not these woods. 

This trail was state-ordered, carved through Algonquin territory to overlook
the colony. The trail closes at night. We plod along hard earth, worn down

by the thousands who have walked exactly here since the trail’s inauguration
in 1963. A piece of me lay trodden over the forest bed where we move

as one beast with two minds about how we speak to ancient ears;
how we trace the spine of a sick mother after we forgot to call home.

© Cara Goodwin