Prairie Storekeeper

We reminisced
the storekeeper and I
in the front room
waiting for supper.

We talked of prairie wind
and storms and snow.
We talked of the fierce sun,
and how the prairie’s like a mountain peak
for all above is sky.

For thirty years
he kept a general store
in a small town near Regina;
a prairie conservative
independent, stubborn,
and not without compassion.
Men learn to work together
on the prairie.
No one can live in that vast loneliness

He mused about his store;
How tough it was to stay in business
when you weren’t a corporation;
Of those who win, and those who are exploited;
the pressures of a foreign market;
the deals he must accept……or else.

We lapsed to silence,
Sharing each other’s company.
The clock ticked softly on the mantleplace.
And then he spoke again
but deeply, far away as if in dream,
as though he spoke from regions in himself
that opened up on powers scarcely dreamt of.
His voice was heavy with authority,
speaking itself through him.
“If young people really knew,” he said, “what an unjust
system it is, they would tear it down in five minutes.”

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