From [Sharps]. Published by Goose Lane Editions in 2014. Stevie Howell's work has appeared in The Walrus, Maisonneuve, the Globe and Mail and others. She lives in Scarborough.
Canmore smokeless coal afforded war destroyers their stealth. Stealthier. Carved out coal beds, the town eroded, as a cough strip-mines and deepens. The mine was shuttered in the seventies. An open-mouthed, boomerang valley. The Olympic Luge was going to save it all, they said, but the price was dear. Up on that peak, it is coiled and asleep. They used it for that film about the Jamaican bobsled team, Cool Runnings. Now the wealth is folks clamouring in who aren’t allowed to buy a home in Banff. They come to ski or hunt and try to stay—royalty, celebrities, you name it. But you have to own a business in town. One woman, a doctor, schemed and plotted: promised she’d open a medical office. Council said yes. She bought a chalet up the side of a hill, leased a storefront on Buffalo, placed a desk and phone inside, and never crossed the threshold again. A bitter pill. They filmed Brokeback Mountain on the Three Sisters. Little Big Man. See those rocks there, those fingers of rock like ribs? They say it’s a man reclined. The Edge was filmed up on that range. A terrible film, we can agree. Alec Baldwin, his grimace and spittle—coated crescendos, beseeching Sir Anthony Hopkins: How the fuck are we going to get out of this hellhole? At the free screening for the residents, we screamed: Look behind you, you idiot! At the highway! They dug animal tunnels beneath the road, like a colliery, and paved animal bridges above. Cougars stalk their prey from the bridges. Chain-link along the road discourages animals, but doesn’t repel completely. Years ago, the big fire cut us off from Banff. Wilder than anything Hollywood could dream— smoke hurling bears, wolves, elk out of the woods— ursus jaws, saber teeth, antlers, nautilus claws, fur for miles, pummelling the fence, droving their own hearts into the wire.