with puny pretty daughter,
and, common the summer of her birth,
threat of rain.
We’re here to visit Al Purdy,
who sits, posed in bronze, on a chunk
of bronze Canadian Shield
looking over his left shoulder
with a well-thumbed book in his hand,
notebook and pen in breast pocket.
Who will be the poet
immortalized in Queen’s Park
fifty years from now?
I’d like us to return home on foot—
trek through the U. of T. campus
(we sit across the street from the E. J. Pratt Library),
trek past the summer-course students,
and the cheap frat-house room renters
who remain in the city for the summer.
Just now the subway thunders from below,
ants above carry out their business,
and Lily stirs in her stroller
the world’s most compelling yawner.
I’d like us to continue through the campus
down bpNichol Lane,
past the Coach House coach house
(always threatened in its way by rain)
continue rolling into the Annex
past the last three used bookstores
in the city—
in the world.
I’d like to run into Dennis Lee—
man would I like to run into Dennis Lee!—
and show off my four-week-old daughter
(wrapped like a burrito in pink blanket
and white toque).
I’d like to show her off to him
and partner Susan
and remind him of the night before
one of his many comebacks
in the middle nineteen-nineties.
I was returning to Book City
as the bars were closing
to retrieve my bicycle
and he was standing
lost in thought,
or just plain insomniac—staring
into the window at the books.
I swear he was wearing sneakers,
pyjamas, a long brown coat,
perhaps a housecoat, and smoking a pipe—
and I was in the state that you might guess,
returning to the store as the bars were closing.
He lifted his head
and our states of mind moved lazily enough
toward each other’s—
just enough for us both to be
as lovely and polite as we always are
with each other.
“Good luck tomorrow,” I said to him.
“Hmm? ” he said to me,
“Oh yes, Chris, thanks.”