Arch Bridge Notes
The sky was silver and overcast on the water where
cormorants dived with deadly calm. The mouth
of the Humber opens into Ontario and in the distance
vessels kept west where La Salle portaged (1680).
Etienne Brulé even earlier (1615), explored
the “Carrying Place” before Huron captured
and tortured him. They ate him, too. I had biked
from the Don to Humber Bay, and stood there
at the Arch Bridge by the great rivers and waterways
of Ontario in that brutal movement of material. The breadth
of a man’s back strapped with tools and pelts. How it was
to heave from the west branch of the Holland River, say,
down twenty-eight miles to the mouth of the Humber.
Brulé was the first manic white to see Lake Huron, Georgian Bay,
the sault of the Ste. Marie. His eyes held to this point where the Arch
Bridge spans. And where time sinks into linear obscurity, and is all
feeling, absorbed distances. The terror of importation of the norm,
strict standards trained on Iroquois and Huron. Energetic
crises of perception bound the wilder European outlook
to disaster. Now a dinner cruise offers views. Bicycle
grease on my sleeves. A line at a pizza shop. Joggers animate
the shared pedestrian path and shirtless men sunbathe
in thin light. La Salle willed his way south
to the Gulf of Mexico (he was murdered in Texas
by exhausted crew). A city is a transformer
of the energies of its people. Water and sunlight.
A never-ending hunger to eat and increase
birthrights. Look out at the Bay’s ragged edge.
Piled granite slabs. Stand again at the interior.
That September golden look
of dying leaves and wilted tansy
stems so evenly, restores
the suddenly wide-eyed sense
of the changing of seasons.
I rode out today to Leslie Spit,
a long spine-like expanse
branching like lung ganglia on maps
into Lake Ontario. Wind sailors were caught
in frequent and sudden gales. In the air
they did spin, almost turning completely
upside down. A Labor Day crowd of
hikers and cyclists stood under a lighthouse.
The city rose behind us and far. I strained
to see over rough waves the dim flash
of the Arch Bridge beyond the islands to
Humber Bay. I wanted to remember
my dream this morning. It was sexy
before a sudden grip of consciousness
spun me into the room where light
leaked weakly through curtains.
The holy light of September followed me
to pee and blow my nose and try to see
where I’d put my shorts. I wasn’t awake enough,
Etienne Brulé, to earn your harsh and intrepid
claims on the changing entity of earth now
kept by brief identity, Ontario. I wanted coffee
and heated the steal bowl. Thought I’d ride my bike
after the kids woke up a bit. Today is yellow wind.
A weakened summer light turns on. A man on the water
rides the waves. Blue heron hunts by a corner
of an estuary near a bridge where children wave—
they cry, See, see the bird! The Great Blue Heron
sees and feeds, elegant, indifferent, common as the sun.
The Time of the Now
Tonight, quiet. Snow
goes to ice in the air’s
cold skein. No, it’s the skin
of earth’s malleable mold.
Or a stillness shifts
under cloudless, starry
sky crusty chill. It’s old—
attention to ground, to
Streetlights press an eerie
orange on the gloam—
one of those Old English
in the ongoing modern
devastation of the now.