On Highway 2A Near Blackfalds,
Alberta, as Night Comes On
You could come here and never arrive.
These towns like memories of towns,
all flecks of colour, barn-reds and brown
sinking into the haze of greys that no one
no matter how hard they try can quite draw
a word for (as if any word could draw it
like the bodies they drew from the almost-
iced-over river dripping up the bank
to be dried, identified, packed away).
You could leave, have left, and still wake
with water in your mouth, water instead
of a name. Each town’s name peeling slowly
off sheet-metal siding or a rust-graffitied
bridge, as though picked at by the passing
vacant stares of commuters hurtling down
the 2A to the city. There can be no tense
imperfect enough for this. In every distance,
grain silos stand through the snow like steel
slivers of history that catch on the little light.
Like cracked teeth after a fight. Your tongue
will never rub them smooth. I’m not sure
you’d ever want to. But then again, I’m not
you (and you’re welcome). Maybe though
you wouldn’t mind – maybe just this once
you can let yourself off the hook, let some-
one else feel a way across your life, just once.
The girl behind the bar winces as she cuts
her palm on a nick in the old wood surface.
She smiles at you, briefly, from deep beneath
her face as she folds her bleeding hand
in a rag. Her blood is a dark hole in the ice
on a river we were all so sure we could skate on.
Patrick James Errington
From Glean (ignitionpress, 2018)