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Van, Can

George Bowering
From:   : Unpublished, 1999.

Sometimes in mid-April we fill our hot-tubs
with Perrier water, we are so pacific, west
coasting through spring, casting not a thought
to our poor cousins in Toronto, slogging

through dirty snow to their cute restaurants
with nifty names. Casting not a thought
but delivering an image if we can, posing
wisely as the people who were foresighted enough

to create a city with warm winters. Would anyone,
they ask in gelid Ottawa, live on the edge out there
except for the weather? This will make
a good enough question for a gentle poem to pose.

(Even in something that sounds like prose.)
Sitting in my Perrier water, nibbling on sushi,
I will respond-in time, in time. But first,
pass the pale wine. Listen to the peaceful wind

in the glass chimes. Put war from your mind.
Note yon billboard-it was commissioned
by an eastern firm. It tells us to buy snow tires
for a Canadian winter. It is a pretty billboard,

I like it. I just have no time for the fancy man
who insists our season past was not
Canadian. Not Canadian, he says, hardly glancing
at the Japanese plum blossoms. Not really Canadian,

that pretty whale. Not interesting, your poems
with no snow, no stoic drone. Take off your pants,
I say, and step into this tub. Oh no you dont,
he says, I know every stereotype in your town.

Here's the story: there's no more truth in that story
than there is music in this poem. Why dont I
buckle down and fix it? Maybe I will, but
not right now-let's have a spinach salad

with avocado. Let's encourage those bristling
folk on Bloor Street, let them fancy we never think
but dance, never put on our pants, let chance
and the Japanese current whisper when our ship

comes in. Laden with little foreign cars. Light
as the touch of our soft flowing guilt.

George Bowering's works copyright © to the author.

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