Canadian Road Trip
We leave Vancouver for hours of trees, meth heads,
rain. My friend Sky is driving very carefully,
after soothing his hangover with Brahms. He is
perilously familiar with this road. Τhe highway
is a chore. The days are copperstained, wedge-shaped,
chipping from the season; I want to stop and live
in every house we pass. I watch the dance of clotheslines,
chainlinks, magpies from my window. I extrapolate.
“You keep finding our future in every little
Podunk backwater we push through,” Sky
observes, as we pass a road called Pumpkin Point.
The sunset is the sunrise, julienned. We sleep
in motels, watch baseball, stuff ourselves
with eastbound kilometres, tinned oysters, tea,
awake to Alberta glittering like frost on a moustache,
the birthday cake sky out of Medicine Hat.
Prairie hills like shallows on a body, hipcreased.
A pair of foxes. A warning sign that is one serif
off of NIGHT DANCER. Humbled trucks and outboards
graining up from the green ground. A dark paper
lake, beams of rain falling in the far sky.
I can see farther than Pete Townsend.
There is ample time to discurse, to skip from
lick to lick, Queen, Nirvana, Biggie Smalls:
space to think eight hundred times from here
to Kenora, Perhaps I will never be enough
like my brother. When I see a needle in the dirt,
I still go, Someone had a good time. I get jealous.
The stereo's yowling Over and over and over.
Do it again. Do it again. Why not? I do it again.
The view’s largesse makes me greedy, grandiose:
I want to be the lamplighter, the fireman, the fryer
of doughnuts. I want to braid midges on the windshield
and sign all the billboards God; I want to be a dressing
gown on a peg in these low houses that have kitchen gardens
made of rust. I imagine Sundays, their religion
oxidizing like that lawnmower, airing out.
Half a day down the road, I can see the weather waiting for us.
I can see the people who used to live here, in their thousands,
ratcheted into history, that decorative ballgag. That suplex.
Their hair, their ahistorical joy, their sloppy lives, canola,
contretemps; nightlong parties and frostbit Junes and broken
nails and wintertime love. Their grudges and fart jokes and statecraft
and their horses. Their midafternoons & their disappointment.
Their good faith. They are the colour of tomorrow's rain.
The fields erase and rewind themselves, grow trees again.
The sky over this, the sky over that; the sky vaulting
over Kenora, grey scrapes of sideways cloud,
faded morning sporting last night’s perfume.
My brother phones to tell me I live in the past –
well, so do the stars. The bickering in my head
going like shit goddamn goddamn shit.
Like I’ve bumped into my internal monologue
on a daypass. I name the birds, the makes and models,
the facts I know: the future is driftwood, ash, dirt:
it is passing through another mammal’s lower intestine.
Where do you want me to live?
My future glints from the petrified forest.
I am a twinkle of sodium chloride in the Aegean,
flightless, grave. The past, my surety, is aglow.
On the rockface north of Sudbury BE NOT AFRAID
ONLY BELIEVE has been blued in big block letters.
I believe that I'm afraid. Does that count?
“If we don't put it on signs on the side of the road,
how will God ever see it?” Sky asks. He says God
like it's a punchline, the way I might say love.
He has bought a bacon sandwich in every province.
The weather disappears, replaced by bridges, and
Port Hope, another punchline. Toronto greets us,
thick and warm, a middle-aged gut, a glut of taillights.
It's a chameleon September, not the colour of anything.
Kids are in the alley or the yard yelling hi. I am still looking
out the window at the foreign country of my own life.
The view is no less alien for all its staying still.