Sketch of a Nation
Blenkinsop valley, floodplains dressed in patriotic garb,
and you are disenfranchised, caricature of
the failure that’s a big hair-do, a score of osteodeficiencies,
a new frailty, bulkhead of manufacturer defects, bulkhead of the witness
of a century of papercuts, both heavy and thin with an historian’s weight,
living in the dungeon of honesty.
Your hatchback beckons, ticking on the shoulder, not pictured here,
supposed to shut off five minutes ago, its misplaced loyalty going on.
There is no choice but further, into the floodplain, farmwater alkaline, wet socks,
a wristwatch sobriety, a wristwatch’s tally which is sacrosanct,
and so something is gaining incredible weight, a profanity,
something uninsurable and lonely,
and wearing the disfigured arm of some garden variety work accident.
There is the smell of booze.
The poplars make the sound of jingoism, their DNA
of old currencies, or some old currency’s DNA of them,
their monstrous colonial formation, the last Diefenbaker loyalists.
There is no choice but further. So, dragging your wristwatch
across the field toward nothing
particular. A populous of mud flies fills your oesophagus with an ungovernable
sound. The time you were charged
with writing it all down, overworked penmanship,
the noise of Canada living in your fingernails.
Further on, the geese make a municipality of their cousinhood,
a municipality of country songs, a salesman’s short term memory,
that kind of disownership, municipality of laughter, an invisibility
that is without television altogether. The real trouble is,
you’ve never forgotten anything.
It comes to you then, in the wind’s holograph,
its turncoat voice, its old grey and notarized predictions.
It is a topographical map, it is the location of a farmhouse,
a point-of-interest, the elevation of an ancestral failure,
a heartbreak, something believed kidnapped
in the ’80s. It is a taunt, something from the farmhouse
and it is familiar and a little sexual. No wait,
it is all these farmhouses, pretending to be abandoned.