knee deep in high water
riding the Muskwa-Kechika, expedition poems
Embarking on a remote, two-week-long horse expedition through isolated backcountry, knee deep in high water bears witness to the healing properties of the trail.
Following a devastating leg injury that would leave her with an acutely crooked knee, Bronwyn Preece embarks on an ambitious and immersive journey into a remote area of Northern BC. Written on the trail, knee deep in high water is a chronicle of the most physically challenging experience following her accident—a two-week-long horse expedition—and an impassioned ode to the breathtaking beauty of the backcountry. As she journeys through melting mountains and rising rivers, Preece encounters new moments of thwarted plans and questioned ethics that parallel her personal path of healing, both physical and emotional. These poems are an account of one woman’s movement into a deeper understanding of self. She grapples with her role as a settler in the unceded lands that provide her with so much comfort and attachment, as well as her own fragility and strength in relation to the terrains she explores. Through struggles and celebrations, lessons and longings, knee deep in high water is a love letter to the trail, and to returning home.
“knee deep in high water beautifully evokes the vastness of the Northern landscape where time scales are more open to interpretation. Wearing an ‘iridescent festival-fanny pack, packing pepperoni, power bars and painkillers,’ Preece navigates her connection to others, to the land as a settler, and her own physical limits with insight and humour. In these immersive expedition poems, the reader finds themselves ‘summer saxifraged, campioned by moss and rung by jacob’s ladder.’”
—Bren Simmers, author of if, when
“Though she walks with ‘crooked steps/ hobbled legs,’ Bronwyn Preece uses existing Indigenous and settler written histories of the Muskwa-Kechika alongside her bursts of short lines to weave together her thoughts, struggles and awe. These poems are as rich in sound and language as the Muskwa-Kechika is in flora and fauna. Preece uses the refrain ‘i am’ throughout to show what she knows and doesn’t know, what she learns and longs to learn: ‘i am/ humbled’ ‘i am alpined’ ‘i am bloodbathed’ ‘i am held.’ Horses, humans, backcountry, floods, mosquitos, knowledge keepers and climate change … and one poet tracking cloud, weather, her own lifeline, her steady resilience.”
—Yvonne Blomer, author of The Last Show on Earth, editor of Sweet Water: Poems for the Watersheds