If a man could pass thro’ Paradise in a Dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his Soul had really been there, and found that flower in his hand when he awoke, – Aye? What then?
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE
The power of things inheres in the memories they gather up inside them, and also in the vicissitudes of our imagination, and our memory–of this there is no doubt.”
ORHAN PAMUK, The Museum of Innocence
Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up
Foster’d alike by beauty and by fear
That smoking is bad for you. In fact we went from stronger to stronger brands: Black Cat, Sweet Caporal, Export A and finally Old Port Cigarillos, even though they made us sick. Once we even smoked punk wood that we found growing near the lake.
That X-rays are dangerous. We used to stop at the shoe store on the way home at lunchtime to put our feet in the x-ray machine and look at our feet bones, and once I had a Planter’s Wart that was removed by a huge x-ray gun operated by a man in a lead suit. The wart fell off within a day.
That the CIA had murdered Patrice Lumumba, President of the Congo.
That some children in our classrooms were often seriously harmed by their own parents
That the last Lake Ontario salmon was caught in 1898, after which they became extinct.
That the RCAF firebombed Hamburg and Dresden.
That Duncan Campbell Scott, whose poem beginning with the line ‘Last night a storm fell on the world’ was in our reader, was also the Deputy Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, who was the main architect of the residential schools policy.
That some kids in our class were being taken away from their families by the government, and sent to residential schools.
That we were in someone else’s place, and that their descendants were among our classmates.
Saturday summer evenings,
we’d go down to the lake
to watch the girls’ softball.
The games were long and relaxed,
slow-paced, almost languorous.
We went to watch the pitchers,
each one with her own unique style:
the baroque wind-up, the eccentric
underhand turn and release
with a curlicue twist, the knee dip
then slightest shake of the head.
Through the heat and murmur
of conversation the occasional
a cheer or jeer from the stands.
From the Pav, music on the PA
warming up for the dance later
drifted across the vague wash
of surf through the summer night:
the sound of the Shirelles singing
I’ve been told when a boy kiss a girl,
take a trip around the world