Three Ways of Not Saying Something
1. You're missing quite the river. It's working out its cricks -- stretching in the sun.
I walked by on my way home from downtown.
I thought something large was passing, but it was just the expansiveness of it all,
Anyway, that's what you're missing. I thought you should know that.
2. Here's what you're missing today:
The river is changed. I walked by it, laden with problems, on my way from the LCBO, and it was voiceless. Today is warmer but the sunlight is a vague patchwork that doesn't heat. It's not the same verb.
Yesterday when I pulled myself up from other things I expected to see a freighter and was surprised to find, instead, three white swans staring back at me. Imagine: three swans – the magic number of the trinity and other narrative functions. I felt cheated by the mythological implications. I felt like I wasn't viewing anything in particular, like discovering that the meal I was eating had been eaten before by so many other people it could no longer be said to have a flavour. That's what I thought, but, happily when I looked further I found two other swans. So five. I thought, that's good and irregular. When I looked for more I realized that the narrow bits of open water (imagine cracks in a window with some of the knife-like pieces missing) were overpopulated with birds, but they were darker than the swans and had to be understood differently, had to be made visible through some sleight of realization.
Today I didn't see a single bird. I didn't hear a gasp or a pop. No voice, no life. If you look near the shore you'll see the ice is piled up in flat sheets the scattered way discarded paper sometimes lies beside a printer when something difficult is due. It frames the centre of the river, which is mostly open. Yesterday's voice seems to have smashed a channel of broken knife blades.
But you'll see all that when you come back. Maybe you'll have birds. How strange they should be there on a day when the river was so loud.
3. The first time I saw the river
it was summer and a man was
selling French fries from a
truck and that was comedy and
the other trucks on the bridge
were gravitas and
the river was the sort of idiot
you can never master and
the clouds were steel
traps clamping a church
in their uninspired significance.
The day felt like a carnival of nothing.
How could it change?
It didn’t change.
The first time I saw the river I didn’t
know what I was looking at.
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