Love along the Rideau

I’m sitting on the banks of the Rideau canal—at the place it locks itself to the Ottawa river. The grass is groomed but not to the point discomfort—the evening is shaded light blue.

Rideaulocks All along the path people are "working out" as though manacled by a mandate. At least, I think to myself, they’re not riding stationary bikes. I feel lazy by comparison, slovenly even, but don’t much care.

A hot-air balloon is rising above the East Block, and would be an enchanting frame for the gloaming if it didn’t have the CTV logo large as death splayed across its entire surface. (Why is it that advertising detaches meaning from experience? Why, like hot air, does it hoist me to a state of unreality—the effacement of place?)

Yesterday I heard a commercial with a Nick Drake sound track as the hook and I felt my spirit sink with despair. Thank God I don’t remember the particular pitch or the product. (Is it possible to discipline ourselves to not-remembering?)

I watch the water as the smoke of a Cuban cigar drifts up past my cheekbones. It matters that I do this. It’s my form of smudging. And it grounds me to this bank, this grass, this river.

A young couple—detached from the aerobic mass—walk by and study me briefly. I return a gaze. I know them from somewhere. They are the original couple. The ontological couple. The primordial couple, engaged in primordial pairing.

They have no say in the matter. They are of-a-kind, mass-couple. And yet…they experience themselves as infinitely unique. It is love that does this for them.

Love draws meridian lines around our bodies. Love brings the relief of contour. Love is the coming of the poet—dispelling the omni-prattle.

Advertising and the general cast and hue of all media and technology, which trains us in indifference, which is the great levelling agent that perpetually threatens us all…is undone by the young couple walking along the Rideau.


  1. …so I often ponder whether a natural non-remembering that is more and more accompanying my journey through my 50’s is more and more a grace? And maybe that’s why so many in later adulthood simply become ‘unmarketable’? …that you can actually start to love the herd… Is this what Thomas Merton discovered on the street corner in Louisville? …that the Buddhist monk Naht Hahn could indeed be his brother?!

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