Cool Pastoral on Bloor Street
2 of mannikins, the courage it takes
3 under casual poses to do
4 nothing interminably each day.
5 To face unflinching (through sunlit glass
6 that bars them from it) the rushing surf
7 of life within reach where they must stand
8 marooned on their islands' plastic turf,
9 and not to cry out: more heroic
10 than those Romans the lava rain stunned
11 to statues -- misshaped by the panic
12 that twisted their limbs, glazed with their pain
13 in black rock -- friezes of agony.
14You would never know, from the relaxed
15 swivel of this woman's wrist as she
16completes a backhand with her racket,
17 that she will never take another
18swing, or from her smile that she has stood
19 balanced here on one foot all summer
20like one of Dante's damned, and not cracked.
212. 'Cracked' is my father's word for 'crazy,'
22 as in 'You'd have to be cracked to pay
23 that much for a pair of shoes.' He's not
24 crazy, but he forgets, and today
25 as we pay out his visit's hours
26strolling on Bloor, he thinks up the same
27 questions again minutes after he's
28nodded and smiled at answers to them.
29 Looking for things to look at and not
30think, I focus on another grove
31 of mummers: headless, their necks poke out
32like worms from the smartly turned-over
33 collars of turtlenecks and jackets.
34You can tell they've also lost their arms
35 from the way the sleeves plummet slackly
36off their shoulders -- although they, ashamed
37 to show the mutilation, act cool
38and tuck the cuffs into their pockets.
39 I look at my father -- hands trembling,
40head crazed like china with minute cracks
41 through which years exit invisibly --
42and must remind myself his show is
43 kinder, the long-running comedy
44where he's played every part, from fresh-faced
45 mooning lover to child-duped parent
46to doddering senex: still free now
47 (while heart and limbs play their duet)
48to do a walk-on, ad lib, bow out.
49 He sweats a little in the sunshine.
50 Summer stock, lacking the tragic poise
51 that freezes these actors in their scene,
52we move on towards a shadier place.
1] Bloor Street: Toronto's major west-east thoroughfare. Back to Line
Mining for Sun (London, Ontario: Brick Books, 2000): 23.
RPO poem Editors: