Sound of the night

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Rus­sell Wanger­sky is TC Me­dia’s At­lantic Re­gional colum­nist. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­sky@tc.tc. His col­umn ap­pears on Tues­days, Thurs­days and Satur­days in Transcon­ti­nen­tal’s daily pa­pers. edi­tor@CB­N­com­pass.ca

“I am an old woman named af­ter my mother,

My old man is an­other child that’s grown old,

If dreams were light­ning, thun­der was de­sire,

This old house would have burnt down a long time ago”

— from “An­gel From Mont­gomery,” John Prine.

The sleet is beat­ing down — the sleet is beat­ing down — and the dark is press­ing in tight around the house now. It’s a dark that’s al­most liq­uid, wet and bend­ing around cor­ners, peer­ing. There’s a pool of light from an of­fice lamp, con­stantly burning back the dark’s edges, keep­ing me safe.

And John Prine is leak­ing in, too, leak­ing in through the cracks in the house that the in­su­la­tion some­how doesn’t fill, notes run­ning high and then fall­ing low like the am­bu­lance siren in the night dis­tance.

“Make me an an­gel that flies from Mont­gomery,

Make me a poster of an old rodeo,

Just give me one thing that I can hold on to,

To be­lieve in this living is just a hard way to go.”

Say what you will. Say that this is just a semaphore whose line of flags can mean noth­ing to you — that’s all right. Say it’s a dot-dash code that’s some­how three beats short of full Morse. That’s OK, too. You can stop read­ing here, start com­pos­ing your tart and slappy re­tort. I don’t care — I guess I’m not talk­ing to you.

Be­cause maybe you don’t know what I mean — I un­der­stand that. But those who do know, well, they do.

“Just give me one thing that I can hold on to,

To be­lieve in this living is just a hard way to go.”

Be­low Por­tu­gal Cove South, I once saw a line of cari­bou rise out of the ground cover, look straight at me and run as one, their faces pointed out straight, be­cause all that mat­tered was where they were go­ing.

Near Adam’s Cove, I re­mem­ber my face meet­ing a win­ter wind that seemed to have been run­ning for miles just to touch me, glance off my face and run on, just so I could turn and watch it run, driv­ing swirling cones of ice crys­tals ahead of it.

In the lee of Small Point, I found a great beige ring of wool around a sheep’s skele­ton, ly­ing there bare on the bar­rens, look­ing for all the world like it had stopped, planted its feet and sim­ply ex­ploded.

“When I was a young girl well, I had me a cow­boy,

He weren’t much to look at, just free ram­bling man,

But that was a long time and no mat­ter how I try,

The years just flow by like a bro­ken down dam.” Hell, yes. The sleet is beat­ing down out there, an icy rain fall­ing down in ropes like ca­bles in need of an­chors.

“Just give me one thing that I can hold on to,

To be­lieve in this living is just a hard way to go.”

Near Adam’s Cove, I re­mem­ber my face meet­ing a win­ter wind that seemed to have been run­ning for miles just to touch me, glance off my face and run on, just so I could turn and watch it run, driv­ing swirling cones of ice crys­tals ahead of it.

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