Recently I was given this book by a friend. I had never heard of Robert Kroetsch before, and was working my way towards the book when I found out the author had just passed away in a car crash near Edmonton. And so although I have only read this one book of his (his last) I would say that Alberta has certainly lost a great writer. A favourite from his last collection:

Afterthought 2

A tree is a kind of calendar, our teacher
explained, each ring in the wood a year,
each tree a memory of itself, a history

of the place and time of its growing.
Our teacher said we might bring
a sample to class. I was a good student.

My father’s favourite tree was a Manitoba maple.
It stood at the edge of our garden.
It gave him shade on hot summer days.

What I did was, I cut down my father’s
favourite tree. With a handsaw.
Then I cut off a slice from the fallen trunk.

The rings in the wood were a wonder.
I counted the rings. I went and told my father,
You are the same age as a tree.

My father said, Where did you find that
slice of wood? I was proud of myself.
That tree at the edge of the garden, I said.

I wasn’t lying. He could see the evidence
for himself. If he wanted to. I asked him
to help me check my counting.

A tree is a kind of calendar. I remember
my father, after a moment, managed to smile.
He taught me that love has many seasons.