Thursday, July 2, 2020


"when you live in your car"

when you live in your car

rather than a room

you get up more slowly in the morning

waiting and watching for the warm light to strike

roll out of the slightly cramped position,

and the morning blossoms

a waste field full of dandelions;

the bushes along a tiny creek will do for trees

having branches and leaves

and even the blank wall of the closed-down factory

we furtively parked behind

has its Zen-like associations

a flood of memories

something you were then

which now you can smile at, accept. . .

not having a roof, a ceiling for thoughts

and getting things going while she sleeps

you sit on the hood of the car

and your mind slowly opens to the extent of the sky

its striations, great masses of low clouds. . .

sounds and shapes seem more distinct

the singing of the highway in the distance

someone drops a tool, it clangs on the concrete

a delicate hammering with its high-pitched-chinking

a crow comes over the roof

with a disconsolate cry      piercing and full of curses

you scare each other when he first sees you

and flies limping off with a few choice words

you remember an evening in northern Ontario

after the long empty stretches had passed

with nothing but thick taiga on both sides

a moose that paused at the edge of the woods

then disappeared

Arctic watershed beginning just to the north

then a few fields again, farms

through French-speaking towns

where the French and Indians coexist

sometimes looking both so bleak and distraught

there was a strange monument along the road further on

you pulled off to see. . .

scuplted man, woman, and child

holding hands atop a stone pedestal

"In the early morning of Aug 4, 1963

not far from here 3 members of the Lumber and Sawmill Workers    Union

were killed as well as 7 other wounded

in order to saveguard the rights

of organized labor everywhere."

we stood struck —

the prairie wind fingered our hair

the silence breathed very slowly

—then not at all

"This is to the memory of Jodeph Fortier

born 1928, Irenee Fortier

born 1938"

and one more

brother and sister? husband and wife?

or from the same clan

and one whose name you forgot

were they mostly French caught in some ethnic pverty

or had they, crossing lines, joined with some others —

immigrants perhaps, to struggle fraternally. . .

but the inscription in English? for us maybe

as though to say, we'll tell you in the way you'll best understand

you imagine sighting down the rifles of the Mounties

or the company men — the instant after they fired

into the crowd of unnamed strikers

as though from there,

seeing the cruelty of it straight on — the crimson splotches

the bloody tableau as though fixed in time

and then like a film that starts up again the cries

the fearful moaning, the agony of the bodies strewn out

the 10 p.m. sun cast its bright luminous Arctic glow

the black flies bit us on the neck and back of the head

they swarmed over the dogs

we walked back through the little woods

and looked at the abandoned shacks

hardly anything left —

put in a liter of oil and started off

the mornings come slowly

and more simply     if you're lucky

and other times estranged, claustrophobic, and lost

your friend still asleep in the back

you see over the fields to the lake

the mist rising slowly

something straightens in you and reaches out

does justice begin then in fragmentary glimpses

of things barely imagined?

but will-o-wisp you wonder — and it's gone