Public Artwork

Poems for a Small Park

E.D. Blodgett, Poems for a Small Park, 2008
E.D. Blodgett, Poems for a Small Park, 2008
E.D. Blodgett, Poems for a Small Park, 2008
E.D. Blodgett, Poems for a Small Park, 2008
E.D. Blodgett, Poems for a Small Park, 2008
E.D. Blodgett, Poems for a Small Park, 2008
Louise McKinney Riverfront Park, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Artwork creator(s): 
Blodgett, E.D.
Text author(s): 
Blodgett, E.D.
Installation year: 
Remarks on location: 

40 light poles


The poems are engraved in the languages spoken during Edmonton's early days - English, French, Cree, Chinese, Ukrainian and a Métis dialect.

Text of the artwork: 

beginnings just appear
so like a drowsy eye
suddenly awake
where a river wells up
uncoiling from the ice
where snug beside the land
it lay dreaming at
our feet in quiet sleep

tread lightly on
the new grass
it is not ours
breathe in the air
with awe
it is the spirit’s breath

pi aku´ pi ak pa wa k´an
ki ihtamaka ta pimatisewin
nat a kam ta la riyver
ki itote maka ki kispanouhk
ekwa ka sekc´ouwahk kakiyaw diloo
ta koc´ipaik
ka kiskac´wak ki kisipanouk
le mama ochi diloo
ekota sokkan ekwa ka kiki kanatan

un seul rêve
nous habitait le corps
le long de la rivière
celui d’aller au bout
et puiser toute cette eau
de sa source
de saisir enfin
la mère des eaux
dans sa pureté primesautière

as from beads of rain
the early light glances off
the wakened river toward
the dazzled children who
wait beside the bank
their eyes frozen fountains

but where is to be found
the dream of rivers exhaled
free from winter ice
in willow tufts perhaps
or the breath of clean birds
come back pursuing the sun

late in the afternoon
deer drift toward the bank
gazing with wakeful eyes
at houses that throughout
the day start to rise
as if the wind among the leaves
the river flowing past
had strangely come to rest
no farther place to reach

but swallows so swift
trace their curves across
the sky and close to banks
happy with the eaves
they find to shelter from
the ruthless noon-day sun

as if unmoved by sun
the shy retreats of deer
and birds in high suspense
the river dreams of its
descents yet to come
and never to be known

and as we walk here
let us remember them
whose dreams created in
the depths of human flesh
never rose in flight
but stood beside these shores
reaching with longing for
the other bank that rose
forever beyond their grasp

beauty from summer falls
unnoticed through ravines
that from the river reach
deeper through the earth
where silence unadorned
rises in our hands

the leaves that now fall here
have fallen here before
anyone knew that leaves
in such infinities fall
and how the heavens exhale
their long sighs of stars

transparent in the late
light that falls across
the river slowing down
every tree becomes
the perfect dream of trees
and there divinity
close to the end of day
silence on its knees
takes up residence

the last to find sleep
in the longer nights of fall
the coyotes fill the air
with sharp cries of glee
that summon stars and moon
the river suddenly
overcome with dreams
echoes of fading song

the time of legend falls
slowly on this place
everywhere unseen
but each return of snow
the moon settling on
the river like a leaf
composed of silence and
unfathomable light
are the only tales it tells

autant de fois
que tombent les feuilles
avons-nous flâné ici
pour les contempler
telles des rêves qui
flottent en dérive vers la mer

winter falls at length
through darkness and the snow
unable to go on
unable on the still
river to return
making this the last home
all elsewhere now
the dream that is to come
unable to take shape

now let us salute
all children who
never saw the light
and all mothers whom
winter took away
and all who have stood here
their names written in
the wind that falls without
a trace across the ice

and let us turn our heart
to old trees that through
the many winters of
their lives have reached forth
to greet the passing birds
and in their branches held
the winds that went astray
beneath the frozen moon
and solitary stars

quelqu’un dans l’obscurité
murmurait adieu
tel le son
de la rivière gelée

and so the last dream
is what the river dreams
asleep beneath the ice
of its invisible
descent from glaciers
beyond sight to seas
and where at last it wakes
soundless it disappears

nothing lay so clear
before those who stood
on these banks than the great
canopy of sky
that spread above them and
poured forth its endless light
and everything it seemed
stood eternal here
all that was laid bare

et tous qui ont suivi
sont entrés dans la lumière
comme si c’étaient une mer
qui les engloutissait
une mer pleine
de grands oiseaux
qui les menaient
plus profondément
vers la source des étoiles

or the golden light
of grain heading out
in summer calls them all
and gazing into it
they see summers spread
everywhere before
them flowing through the air
generations of
the sun standing in sheaves

while over all of them
the silent river and
the grass against their feet
a star unmoving stands
beyond anyone’s grasp
this is the light that draws
them all into the dream
of what will be when they
no longer walk here

rises in the light
as if every dawn
turned departure toward
endless arrivals where
only the rising sun
holds time in its light
asleep upon our hands

Text theme: 
Poems are about the North Saskatchewan River and the nearby river valley



Sponsoring partners Art & Design du Public Place

"I took the river as a metaphor … for moving through time," he told CBC News. "As the poems move through the seasons, they move through the elusive history of the city, the growth of the city. There's a sense of time flowing through it and flowing away."


- CBC website (2008). Poetry to be a walk in the park for Edmonton.