Crosstown Two after Low Spirit Snowfall: Fire and Coal Vision

Monday, July 15, 2019
            In flames, deep crimson swirled
                                    in sunset orange,
                        half-face rises,
                        deep charcoal, 
                        sandstone smooth
            Mesingw arrives
                         in the space between
            daughters and ancestors, 
            grandfather of the west,
            grandmother moon. 
                        as in the drift of planets,
                                      crawl                         of                     glaciers.
Waiting for buses, moving on the time set by the city itself, I find myself in fresh light of a sweet deer exhaled day in the grip of dreams. Revisits with the under-recalled and haunting images, voices, the smells and tastes that know no body but the one I imagine myself to be. Creation moves in near negligible understated bursts in the pockets left between passing cars, the forked tongues of SUV exhaust pipes. Our waking selves stalk the outlines of our lives in the manner that we dream them.
            Pigeons above 
                        the soccer store
                                     but do not move
                                    from window ledges.
                        Storekeeper locks up
                        crosses           street                           to diner.
The light, the fire that burns at the heart of creation, is felt most robustly in the darkest months. Back-alley, pallet-fed, wood-stove heat in the middle of window-rattling snowfall. Fast, dirty, the dryness telling of the nature of that consumed in flames. Yet, all heat is embracing. All heat a shadow of the umbilical cord tracing our path back towards mother earth. In wait, taunted by the cold world around me, from salted horizon to shovel-scraped horizon, the honest search is for that heat. That light breaks through a shifting wall of cloud above Ford City.
                                                Awake. Opalaine adorned
                                                            cup in hand. Waiting above
                                                concrete bus bench. Old snow
                                                crunches beneath boot toe.
                                                Our warmth above, our earth
                                                            still rising from the weight of ice.
Rubber floor boards running rivulets of grit snow melt and salt seams run three days deep. Bus accelerates like Saavik punching the Enterprise from dry dock. Mast sets full and the in-between smells not of human presence but cooked metals on a radiator left open too long by a closed window. From here, the city lurches by in the wide cataract haze of road-salted saline mist. From here, one feels the city, understands the motions and smells and songs not given in the seclusions provided by automatic five speeds, Dolby surround sound, and warmed seat drip lines of another person’s work and extended credit. Let creation fill your senses. Understand that this world is, too, filled with the movement of others. Our world stretches beyond turn-key warmth, wide-open parking lots. 
                        To the sky, just below cross-river
                        skyscrapers, this town with a royal
                                    city name stretches upward.
                        Rises as it can, with broad parking
                        lots, empty, anchoring the stretch. 
                                    Discarded Tim Horton’s bag
                                    does cartwheels before 
                                    the shuffle of a homeless
                                    woman. Downward
                                    she stares, cracked asphalt
                                    the world her vision plays in.
Bus hesitates outside former bank turned payday loan dispensary. Hope comes in five-thousand-dollar daily advances with thirty-two percent interest compounded hourly. An empty lobby overlooking plexiglass wrapped counters greets a woman and three children as they push inside from the cold. Seven hurried beeps and the falling of pocket change, this bus pulls off into the melee of traffic cutting past ground-in-dirt buildings, tinted storefronts that reflect back cracked windows, busted sidewalks, garbage strewn planters, the type of city we grew to fear in our cross-border cousins. 
                        Full to standing, mumbles
                        and full-throated replies
                                    arrive in Arabic, Mandarin,
                                    westside swagger, crosstown
                                    sews triptych of five inner-city
                                    kilometers together. 
Along this main artery, many cities become one, the bus a bob and weave of stops and arrivals, goings and departures. Past vacant single-story restaurant fronts, railroad underpasses, and shuttered schools, interiors left to electrified heat and recrystallizing salt, we are left with the rise and fall of an engine between stops. The quiet entry into the old town site divided by private bridge and the denuded plots of one-time brick-faced homes. Heat rising through unseen vents cooks the black, salt-stained floor. This three-passenger bus climbs Mill Street and I exit, before the next westward swing. 
                        Down hill, past the rise
                                    where three dead men
                                    hanged and disappeared
                        in a white-horse night
                        to last mill on a river
                        once dominated by them
                        still churned by wind, 
                        here at river coast, even
                        the bridge, even other
                        shore factories subservient
                        to the wind that cuts 
                                    into stored transit heat.
Grass twitches above a froze-out inlet. I stop at an oil drum turned campfire, abandoned in the rising day, and the dying heat of this rust-sided drum pours silent into vacant shoreline parkland. Believe that our ancestors fled to this point from bad peace-treaty surrendered homes to land hungry tax evaders. Believe that our ancestors fled to this point from men hungry enough to turn humanity into property rights. In the shuffle of wind-whipped grass, the groan of nearby mill paddles, and the motion of wind gusts against snowdrifts, understand you hear the song left us by millennia of creation. 
                        At tree line,
                                                white tails,
                                    four of them, 
                                    saunter inland.
                        Second to last, lingers
                        as if a weight upon its back,
                        the smell of cooling coals
                        creeping in,
                                    shoreline vision
                                    searches for hints
                        of black and red, 
                        in failing warmth,
                                     the space between
                        daughters and ancestors, 
                        grandfather of the west,
                        grandmother moon.
Monday, July 15, 2019