this town that

 

in this town, banana-seat bikes leaning up against loggers’ cabins –

shingle-siding painted sapphire, mustard, sage

moss grows thick on roofs

 

 

in that town, streamers, clackers, bikes with just one gear

kids waiting ‘til dusk to play hango-seek

hiding behind parked cars, in neighbour’s yards

scurrying around 100-year-old maple trees like squirrels

 

 

in this town, a fire station, a butcher shop where hunters bring fresh kill

a trailer-park down by the water nestled in a valley

ringed by peaks that remember indigenous names

 

 

in that town tucked in a city named for trees standing in water

an Italian bakery, a greengrocer

a corner store

 candy three a penny, five a penny

 

 

in this town, a green Boler trailer under plastic wraps, tyres gone flat

indoor chairs round an outdoor fire pit

a budding of beer cans on brown lawn

gypsy-inspired music from behind a ten-foot cedar hedge

 

 

in that town, a schoolyard

where we’d play Seven-Up against a brick wall

old tennis ball

badminton under a canopy of leaves

a verandah for listening to thunder

 

 

in this town, a felled lot

swallows swooping over corpses of lodgepole pine

the rumbling dust of logging trucks

a caravan of campers

travelling to somewhere just past

the next bend in the road

 

 

in that town, knowing which doorbell to ring

for trick or treat

 the singsong voice of the lady next door

   calling to her kids in Greek –

“Yanni, Elena, ellado!”

 

 

 

in this town, no fences

no bike helmets

a dog on the lap of a kid on a gyrating swing

 

 

If I were to wait ‘til dusk

would they come running out of these houses –

amethyst, mustard, royal blue

calling out Ollie Ollie Oxen Free?

 

this town, that

This poem was originally published in The Cowichan Series, 2019.

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