From thecanadaproject, a life-long poem chronicle that includes fiction and essays.
I seen you at the Tim Hortons, at the Canadian Auto Workers Hall, and even heard you on the CBC: you telephoned Rex Murphy. I seen you in David Zieroth’s poetry class. You marked up Saturday morning. Douglas College, off Royal Avenue. An airless room, one window sealed—forever? And I seen you years ago. Yes, it was 1980. College Place pub, New Westminster. You wore a Band-Aid over your temple. You’d popped a zit right up against the bathroom mirror. At the pub you said, “I was hit with a field hockey stick.” I seen you standing in the Vancity bank line-up. You pull at your nylons. You pull on anything you can get a hold of, time and time again— in Safeway, you dump three TV dinners into your cart. First, you check the sodium levels. And time levels off and I seen you— Trout Lake Farmers Market. You handle organic heirloom vegetables: carrots, apples. Name all the names of the apples. I seen you at Costco’s. You heave 20 water bottles into your cart you cart away the night so late. Later, I seen you in an office at a desk— your right hand rests on a palm-sized mound of plastic index finger points, lifts, click, click, the sound releases out of your 2008 XPC small-form computer click, click on the Inner Net you write anonymous complaints about other people. Misspelled words roll into time like a joint about to be smoked— I seen you clear through to the summer of ’79, your hair in a high ponytail. You drive out on Highway 99, South Surrey— You drive a Ford pickup truck. You overtake a brown Chevrolet. Gas tank leaks all over the place. You open your mouth. Your head hangs. Out the window of your truck, you scream: where did you get your fucking licence, you fucking Punjab? Your words, grit thrown into the years and— I seen you standing on a platform. It is the first five years of the first decade. This new century. You are the star of your own political confession. Your silver hair swept back, wife at your side. You do not smile. You choke back tears. Forgive me, you ask. I seen you, female iteration, in a strata council meeting. Downstairs in an apartment building. You yell at your neighbours. You refuse to pay for a new roof and say the word, roooff, like it should be said. In the elevator, your key cuts powder coated brushed steel brushes time and I seen you— You walk your dogs on a lonely stretch of beach on the edge of an island, somewhere in the Gulf you see a piece of flotsam— No. It is not someone’s foot. It is plastic and you home in on it. Your tongue behind your teeth. Tsk, tsk. Pick it up. Pick it up. You lecture the people who bought the land. They did not turn the land into a park. You park time and its dimensions, and I seen you again: you do not move for hours in the damp parts of a church hall. You do not want to give up your seat, where you sit every month: choir, board of stewards, Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, United Church: so few now—grey, spent and stooped— you refuse to acknowledge that really, there is no preordained seating arrangement just because in September you sat down on the chair that now holds your person does not mean that someone cannot sit there in that space close to the Very Reverend— time shifts, again and again I seen you on Howe Street. You wear a suit. You carry no umbrella. In your ears, ear buds implanted. You work your electronic device. Busy, busy, thumbs. Your eyes look down to your hand. Your hands erase time and its dimensions. You do not see me but I seen you: You walk uptown, night of snow, hail, rain. Spring on the West Coast. You search for a café where a man speaks about politics. You like this man, even though some call him a socialist. You, too, have been called and you want to find the place where the man speaks. You walk eight blocks in a night of snow, hail, rain. You are eighty-eight years old. You anticipate finding the man. You peer into steam-stained windows. You recognize no one. You walk back home. You are eighty-eight years old. You sit in your kitchen, walls painted buttercup yellow. You celebrate your 65th wedding anniversary. Alone. Alone. Your husband died decades ago. I seen you. I seen you.