Visit to Queen’s Park

Summer, 2011 / No. 26

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

(Beautiful Couple!)—

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,

stressed out

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.”