30th Annual Emerald Awards Poem: Nisha Patel – The Base of the Wildrose

when you dig up the base of a wildrose, 

even the smallest of roots will regrow 

the calling card of the boreal forest is tenacious 

and we, the children of our ancestor’s children, 

answer to the bushes in everything that we do 


we could have succumbed to environmental collapse 

or given in to the despairs of time wasted 

but some have heard change call our names 

pushed education and research to its limits 


we’ve planted solar farms and harvested harmful air pollutants

integrated wastewater and built healthy food systems 

climate science and practices 

are scaled up, from trial to implementation 


and the web of our actions are tangled rose stems; 

overlapping and protecting one another; our industries

all have one thing in common: we’re tackling 

environmental remediation together 


I wish for – greener skies; yellow suns; the water 

in the whispers of Saskatchewan running free. I wish for cat tails in the

wetland growing strong, the pond a welcome return for geese,

the rain recycled from tongue to meet ocean once again. I wish

to remember that we are a part of something bigger than me 

so why not dream, bigger than me, too? 


even a child knows how to hold the seeds of the dandelion 

in a small, but powerful fist; hold the answer close without 

crushing, knows that hope is a deep breath let out 

as a want and a wish 


there’s so much at stake; there is so much to be asked 

of you and your hands, of you and your hearts 

so use them both in equal measure, because on our own 

our minds are lonely places, full of answers made solutions 


so be a solution, see the problems and face the challenge 

with a magpie’s attention; and speak with the robin’s throat at dawn,

sleep heavy like the beaver at rest, with the weight of opportunity

to make a home out of impossibility with each new morning’s crest 


the hips of a wildrose stay on stem through the winter, ready to bud come the spring

and we know the snow has melted, on land that needs us more than ever

the clock is ticking; the time is now 

for us to wake up, and start to flower