We need a different kind of flesh


What we have is marvellous but it lacks resilience.
I know this because once I was sitting in a café
                                                  sipping dark coffee,
and the light sifting through the windows
had this powdery softness
that sometimes comes early-to-mid-morning,
before surrendering to the brawny glare of afternoon.

And I had just noted this thought about light in my notebook,
when a white-haired person wearing a blue bandana 
                                                  and gardening shirt,
rose to leave and—silhouetted in that full-flowering light—
signalled a simple acknowledgement of my presence.

And what rushed to fill me, inexplicable and irrepressible,
                                                  was joy;
so intense and primal that I was brought
                                                   to tears
and would have been overwrought,
                                                  had it endured.
Yet how I longed for it to endure
(but hadn’t the frame for it).

It was this experience that convinced me of an afterlife:
where, at some forever-open café we’ll all be changed
and in a peach-tinted flash receive new flesh, new bones,
bodies made to bear ancient crimson flames,
                                                      and so,
go out into glad afternoons, magnificently naked.

Impatient to be happy


We wound our way north, along and beyond Island View Beach.
There were Brants, cormorants, and mergansers.
It was clear and we saw, plain and high, Mt. Baker’s white peak.
A Tsawout man, whose land we were on, was fishing with his grandchildren.
The children were eager to leave for a new spot.
The grandfather was patient to stand still and cast and cast and cast.
The sand made our feet heavy, slow, obedient.
We stopped often for shells and stones.
We talked of our collections of ideas, discoveries, changes.
We had lunch, ate salad, sat on driftwood.
Sydney slouched in the distance across the Haro Strait.
We walked into the afternoon.
At Cordova Point—a spit of salt marsh shrubs, cobble and sand
stretching toward James Island—we turned back.
The beach became crowded with people and dogs all glowing in the sun.
Everyone eager to welcome spring to February.
Everyone eager to escape the prison of objects.
Everyone eager to release their breath.
Everyone impatient to be happy.

The Tree Northeast of the Legislature Buildings in Victoria, B.C. Circa 1974


(Wikipedia image)


We had a good thing going,
living under that 70-foot Sequoia,
the way those graceful
branches reached around and down to the ground,
creating a natural domicile.

Daily order of business:
~ morning constitution in the oak-trimmed east-wing washroom;
~ bicameral stroll on Wharf and Government Street;
~ standing committee on the location of affordable clam chowder;
~ caucus meeting in the shade of the Empress Hotel,
         at consideration: the beauty of masonry covered in Boston ivy;
~ afternoon sitting: on the walls of Inner Harbour,
         legislating among the long-legged, tube-top tourists;
~ sunset assembly at the Beaver Pub, royal prerogative:
         terry-towel tablecloths and twenty-five cent draft,
         debates, rebuttals, proposals, and 2 AM adjournment—
full slate of meetings, appointments, consultations—important work.

We were in session every day that summer.
It was all going well, until the day someone was moved,
private members’ bill notwithstanding, 
to hang his laundry on the outside of the tree.

The Sergeant-at-Arms could not feign inattention, 
not in the middle of the august Packard Convention,
not with all those tweed-capped, leather-elbowed tax-payers,
and their calabash whale-bone pipes,
broguing about their sixteen-cylinder road boats.
The dissolution of parliament was immediate.

It was a miserable winter on Sault Spring,
in those plastic tents that did not prorogue
the damp and the cold.
And the sound of unremitting rain on the fly-sheet
was not romantic.

The tedious and the astonishing


Strife at first light. Fear for breakfast.
Daily meal of hostility.
All this is tedious.

Hate is tedious.
The man shaking his fist behind his windshield,
behind his pulpit, behind his Generals, behind his ideology—bloody tedious.

What astonishes is someone singing in the dark,
listen, hear the soft inhale before each gentle note.

Tedious: Paranoia’s new president barking, terrorist! terrorist!
Astonishing: while every year 40,000 die at their own hands.

The Left, the Right,
the mind in black and white…tedious.
What astonishes is nuanced intelligence—a rainbow soul.

Christ in cahoots with America, God’s co-opted blessing
of nationalism, of militarism—Jesus that’s tedious!
What astonishes is the long obedience to nonviolent resistance.

Walls for tyranny, scapegoats for unity, the rage for security,
tedious! tedious! tedious!

What isn’t, is Rachel who rises at four to feed the homeless at seven,
a man in a suit, stopping, bending, picking up litter on his way to work,
wrens that never quit building a broken nest.