This is the first poem in Fred Wah’s 1982 Governor General award winning book _Waiting for Saskatchewan_.
What surprises me about the first line of the poem, and about the title of the book, is the primary importance given to the gerund: waiting. It’s the only gerund in the whole poem. The gerund builds permanent expectation never fully achieved in the nasal glottal stop of the higher sinuses. A small grammatical element in a poem that writes grammar and identity together. But _who_ is waiting?
Nouns build nouns: “grandparents countries places converged / Europe Asia railroads carpenters nailed grain elevators / Swift Current my grandmother in our house.”
One of the more impressive buildings in most prairie towns is the Land Registry Office which store deeds and land surveys. In the land registry office in Ottawa, where I live, the architect has worked unhewn granite boulders into the building’s smooth concrete surface. I can’t think of a better image of land meeting real property law.