Bob, I am writing this from the old mill stream where your Sad Phoenician vanishes. I bring it with me some days to sit on the ledge when I need a sound of rush or an eyeful of swoosh. There I am fixated on a bright flip-flop, the occasional stroller wheel when I realize it’s skedaddled, reappearing days later in the shaft of my suede boot, shelving itself among Swahili dictionaries. It hides behind mirrors, forgets its self-portrait can’t be improved. Or I wake to its breath in my face at four a.m. smelling like the street-mess of Marseilles, the fish-vendors in Cadiz. Sometimes the bartender calls me to collect it from happy hour (Eamon Grennan dotes & buys it Catholic whiskey). Then it’s the librarian on the line, who insists that it harasses the other books, won’t take no for an answer. It gets up in their pages with its never-ended narratives & its buts & ands. It drinks from the carton, steals my tangerines, turns the Mill Street birdhouses upside down. I think it thinks this is funny. It confuses the geraniums, encourages them to leave the seat up. The honey locust keeps tapping at the window like a high school counselor. My begonia, like my mother, believes this bad behavior is somehow my fault, not enough prayer & beans. It nods consistency, consistency. The yellowing flowers suggest I should dress better, jog my mind more to keep it straight, toeing the lines. Meanwhile, Bob, it keeps driving the suitors away, my own poems. It riles the crows from their roost on the bridge, teases them with biscotti crumbs & Ukrainian swears.
Last month it disappeared to a dance in Smuts. All the way to Wood Mountain, can you believe it? That bit came from Cooley, who said it had been seen with Suknaski’s ghosts. They snuck into an old Métis church with their beer breath & native dialect, telling stories of Duck Lake, sex in mangers. It drug in a few days later, stone-roasted, announcing its retirement to Assiniboia. Boy oh boy, Kroetsch, did you raise it to act like this? Even crazy Mclennan swears it Skypes him late every fourth Tuesday, repeating: pornographers & poets enjoy large views nine times before clicking end. He & his lady shake & drink & claim they’ll start a petition banning its mention from the Mercury Lounge. It late-nights, inventing more toponomies for Medicine Hat. Can’t shut up about the onomastics of ex-lovers (the woman from Nanaimo, et al). How do I exist with a book like this, a book that goes on?
You may wonder why I took up with it in the first place. It was once so lovely: washing my panties in the sink, smoking Lucky Strikes, ashing into a damp crotch while singing “Walk the Line.” It played the role of the German shoemaker; I was its midnight brownie. There was a time, Bob, when we could curl up in that ditch of silence. Turkey dinners & dolmen crawls. Polkas by the sea. I taught it kiss in each Romance language. It taught me delay in an ancient tongue. We rode the bus of our minds through cloud forests, down to the beautiful bays of why & where. Those were days that acted like years. If it wants wander, it can’t stay. I won’t pilot this mystery, its love-me-love-me-not, this persistence & fix on play. That’s its form, it says, its style. Please help my Mill Street malaise.
Photo by Brian on Flickr