We were just re-entering the city limits of Québec,
On the way back from Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré,
When a highway trooper pulled us over. Fuck it,
I thought, in view of the hectic day ahead; whatever delay
He has planned for us means hassle. "No call to panic,"
I said, as he was walkie-talkieing in the plate, "we all say
A prayer right now to Jesus's granny's arm, some quick
Little O Mother of Mothers number that'll keep at bay
The longhand of your man." And sure enough, we joined the sick
And the crippled, the shipwrecked, the mal-aimés,
All the unluckies restored by Saint Anne's physic,
Whose crutches and prosthetics we'd seen on display
Not twenty minutes ago. "Slow it down," he said. "Respect
The posted speed limits and [get this one]...have a nice day."
All of this in the space of a minute, let clean off the hook
And away up the hill to the Vieille Ville before I could say
"Merci, Sainte Anne, you've no idea how therapeutic
This will be for us." But before the trooper pulled a U-ey
And headed back to Beaupré, I saw him wave on the traffic
In my rear-view, the empty sleeve of his jacket flapping away;
The Suburban's never been the same since it started then to rock,
Ever so gently, everyone in back fast asleep, and it not yet mid-day.
We all agreed the only right thing to do was take a raincheck
on the guided tour slash goûter at The Kelly House on Maple,
and head instead to the medecine man at Onhoüa Chetek8e.
Once off Rue Chef Gros Louis the going became unmappable,
Wolf, Doe and Turtle snowbanked higher than the Suburban,
a fresh onslaught flocking around us, our nervousness palpable.
It wasn't a man at all administered but a cute Huronne.
"A little accident snow-tubing..." I warned her, "out at Valcartier.
Just a bit of an abrasion." As she unwound the bloodied turban
from off of Mike's face, exposing his raw burn, no prettier
more beatific face have I doted on as hers in that teepee,
applying balms and gauzes, all got up in traditional gear
right down to her moccasins. Mike dozed off on the setee.
I told her how once, an old woman rid me of the dirty mouth.
A quick detour to explain punk and pins, sing some Siouxie
and the Banshees, then back to what it must be like to give breath
for someone else to hold. Like this, I said. Between each kiss,
we'd pause to whisper in our idioms, I the usual idle stuff
of new love, and she some sensible prayer, no doubt, that all should pass,
henceforth, in her ancestral world by word of mouth to mouth, that youth
might stall its horseplay long enough to learn that what we miss we chase.
It was a tiny fang I forget her name's tongue let slip onto her index finger
in Le Lapin Sauté (Willie, handy with silver, made an earring out of it
once he got home), but when the waitress who, turns out, was half Inuit,
came forth into my mist with whoever's birthday cake, that was a harbinger
I was a goner. All of a sudden I felt so Petrarchan all I could do was linger
on her wicked snowy skin, sporting just the odd seductive mogul, her silhouette
madonnified against that sparkling slice of sponge brought in on a plate. I'd go into it
more, how she was downright blue in patches like a black diamond, a dead ringer
(though not so waifish) for that what's-her-name outlandish Icelandic singer,
but before I knew it we were tucking down the bunny slope into iniquit-
y. I had on my new Rossis so I was all over her racing to the lodge. Intuit
for yourself, then, my dismay, when what does she do but stroll in and fling her
good self at this big deadpan dépanneur of a hockey player from up Chicoutimi
way. This your beau? I asked her, and he shot me an eyeball like he'd ice me
in a heartbeat all the way past the Accueil and out the double doors to the ski-wee.
He had the cut of a hard man, secession written all over him. Looky here you to me,
the pair of yiz, he grunted. You two shackin' up looks like, so I'll tell you all nicely
to fuck away off with yourselves and your pluralist agenda, back to your own teepee.
With that, he polished off his sad-sauced poutine. As for his daughter, she cooed to me
the whole wild slalom back to the Frontenac. Making a go of it would be dicey,
what with the snows and thaws of our youth. We were both needy. She knew it. I knew it.