Tucking a stray tress behind her ear, we listen
to every word she says, apart from precision:
7% of government spending goes to education,
compared to 65% on defense. An atrocity, she says.
A black rubber band is coiled like a snake in the grass
of her chestnut hair. Her pants, just tight enough
to recall the Battle of Mons, where the British picked
a fight with German occupants in 1914 – I remember this
because, believe it or not, the Canadians liberated the city –
the Canucks saved the day! There’s a plaque in the belfry
to prove it. Anyway, she says, moving on
to popular culture: when the safari loses luster, owners turn
to name-brand fashion – that’s how it is, how it’s always been.
Again, I return to Mons, imagine a river carving a valley
through hill country, where a young boy shepherds
along the rocky crag of pass, sleeps in a ruined Church,
searches for grass so that his herd might eat. Naked
stumps of douglas fir, severed at the knee.
The window is open, a breeze comes in
from the river. She has neglected, says the shepherd,
that books are less expensive than bombs. By his calculations,
a weapon capable of any respectable damage
must be one hundred thousand times more expensive
than the average book, which would indicate a ratio
of approximately ten thousand seven hundred books/bomb –
dollars which, judging by the amount we spend on defense,
have made us none the wiser. Which is a shame, he decides,
because, tucking the same chestnut tress and gliding to her seat,
she smiles at him, skewing the numbers for good.
Photo from Library and Archives Canada on Flickr