story

W.O. Mitchell

I enjoyed studying Who Has Seen the Wind in a Canadian Literature class. I first read the novel decades ago, a random pick at the bookstore. Apparently, the editors of some editions left out portions, likely for an American audience. The most recent edition includes all of the missing bits.

I went to the U of C to research W.O. Mitchell while writing a paper on the novel. At the archives, I was able to hold and read his uni papers, and correspondence with his family, other writers, editors, and the Governor General of Canada. It felt odd having that sort of view into the world of the acclaimed writer, but also very cool. While thought of as a Calgary-based writer, he lived and wrote significant works in High River, Alberta.

.

W.O. Mitchell Came to Town

.

I felt the wind when you came

like Santa Claus on a prairie night;

you rattled the windows

and stole down the chimney.

.

The harvest moon howled

and even laughed a little

at your tall tales from Grandma

and Uncle, Sean;

stories about those thirt-ys dirt-y

farmers who

fought cougars and bears

like David,

and made their homes

where the sky touches the earth

all around our town.

.

?You have another story in you

from the wind.

–I will listen.

.

I held your manuscript today.

I could feel where you pulled

the pages from your typewriter

before you sent them to

the editor

who sent them all

far and wide

from the prairie to

everywhere.

.

I saw where your professor had

corrected your grammar, syntax, and diction.

But not your ideas;

never your ideas.

.

?What was your mark;

it was erased.

?Were you embarrassed.

They didn’t know who you’d be.

?Would they have marked you differently

if.

.

You had questions about

the wind. You knew Digby couldn’t

explain.

Now you know

the wind– uncontainable

will go where it may.

.

I read your mail today.

I was angry, too,

about the books I hadn’t known.

.

Your letters are carefully kept

from Atwood, Mowat, the GG,

and your mom; they are

artfully, archivally preserved

behind glass doors and

a statuesque lady.

.

You’ve done well, kindred spirit.

?Tell me your secrets.

You were good and faithful.

You built a bridge between.

.

Rest wind; rest well W.O.

Enjoy your orchids.

And thank you

.