In a Rented Cabin in the Hal­ibur­ton High­lands, Ori­ented to­ward Al­go­nquin Park

The Walrus - - CONTENTS - By James Arthur

Ev­ery­thing is grimy and in dis­re­pair.

The cur­tains are smoke dam­aged, the wall­pa­per half-unglued. The kitchen prob­a­bly looks as it did when the cabin was built, in 1962. The slid­ing door gets stuck.

But out front, the Muskoka chairs planted in the sand seem to be pay­ing close at­ten­tion to the lake, as if bound by some power to con­tem­plate this one land­scape un­til they know it to its core: per­fect watch­ers, scorn­ing noth­ing, ab­sorb­ing all ex­is­tence ex­actly as they should, so they no­tice ev­ery lit­tle deep­en­ing of the soupy sum­mer dark, and the grey curl that’s slipped free of Mrs. Mck­ech­nie’s bathing cap.

Ice once cov­ered all this shield rock — for a hun­dred miles around — be­fore melt­ing back, leav­ing raw gran­ite and these lakes. As night comes on, a kayak crawl­ing in the dark looks not like any phys­i­cal ob­ject but like some­thing more ab­stract glid­ing on the sur­face of the open wa­ter’s mind.

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