Years back I complained a little when Newfoundland poet Ken Babstock wrote about crowberries. Newfoundlanders usually refer to them as blackberries and I felt he was pandering to a mainland audience, destroying authenticity in the process. In Darlene Guetre's "Alpha and Omega" I suspected a similar thing happening as she spoke of "murres." Murres, for those who may not have heard of them before, are black and white seabirds about the size of a duck. They're quite common in Newfoundland, where they are hunted (my dad thinks they're delicious, me not so much), but go by the slightly different name: turrs. Don't ask me why the m got changed to a t, as I don't have the foggiest idea, but it was enough to distract me while reading Guetre's story.
"Alpha and Omega" is a flash fiction story about a man on a cliff contemplating suicide. However, he is not alone, sharing the cliff with a colony of murres. Their presence and his respect for their history is enough to set things right. His death would upset the balance.
But who is this guy? Is he a tourist? Why does he refer to them as murres? Maybe Guetre herself is not from Newfoundland?
In the end, that one word choice is hardly problematic; a small distraction to an otherwise interesting story that is more hopeful than it appears at first glance.