When did we realize that we were
alive? Those words: am, and I —
put them together, no complement
intended, just the grim intransitive
marked by a full stop. No stopping
the rest, everything moving past,
changing. How to change change?
Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?
¿Dónde está la nieve?
In the Raven, where I read your poem, or Shakey’s class, where I met you and Willy and we read Gabriella Mistral and Antonio Machado? In Jimmy Ling’s cafe; or Warren’s basement, or a bridge in the rain, and afterwards when you were drinking Dolly’s warm soup? Once I knocked you down with my car, and Angela was in the window watching. Smell of formaldehyde and gestetner ink, our first students, Frank’s sake, Earle’s contentious workshop? A Mexican apartment on Avenida Béisbol, El Cornu friends, earthquake, police removing your licence plates? We drove back in a white station wagon of non-stop stories and cans of ravioli hot off the manifold, past the side hill where the grass had burned, passed the great brick chimney and the bridge that your father built, on down hot Anarchist Mountain to the valley of recall. Montreal in 67? With the Zs at Ceperly when you hit the home run and we built a fire in the snow?
At the end of narrative, dusty, bent,
we find ourselves pounding out a few
more words, keeping a close watch
lest they too fade on the snowy screen.
Not then but now. Not there but here
where the snow with its yellow scrawl
has not completely melted, just for
the nonce, just for the moment, time
enough to write this down, and more.
Lionel Kearns lives a quiet life in Vancouver, Canada, where he has been a close friend of George Bowering for many years. Kearns is the author of 8 books, including: Listen George (1965), By the Light of the Silvery McLune: Media Parables, Poems, Signs, Gestures, and Other Assaults on the Interface (1969), and Practicing Up to Be Human (1978). His latest book can be accessed at http://www.lionelkearns.com/convergences/ A recent interactive study by Jim Andrews of Kearns’ work is available at http://www.vispo.com/
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