ST. LAWRENCE, NORTH SHORE

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Smashed with a fingertip.
My blood smeared
on my arm. The unity
of all being. Black flies
so easy to kill. A whale
cruises the shore, tide
coming in. We pour wine,
unzip the netting to drink.
There is no end
to the road,
just a sign it stops,
and trucks, bulldozer, a man
who laughs when we get out
to see.

The end
of the road. After that,
ATVs:  sandy trails
with their bridges and stop
signs in Innu-aimun and French.
Inuksuit, acting like people,
stand by marking the way.
Sand bones, granite bones.
After that the boats.

What do the people
do here? Fish, kill
flies, stare at the endless
power lines, the listless trees.
Home, I suppose.
What we put up with
because it’s ours.

These people deserve
all the beauty they can find:
roses, birdsong, orange sunset clouds.
And what they make: blue
wooden pews, penknife-carved stars
in the vault of their church.
Blue-robed Mary, her open heart,
and Jesus, crowned above.
White cross with fishnets
and the names of their boats.
Wreaths of fabric flowers,
iron rooster on the tower, bells.

We stop in a wilted town
to eat our bread and cheese.
A one-armed man waters
baskets of geraniums hanging
from lampposts in the park.

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THE IGNORANCE OF DRESS-MAKERS

We do not want all the decent drapery of life torn off.
We are returning to a great and magnificent

“princess” or queenly style of dress.
It is becoming the fashion to make a courtesy,

to flourish a fan, to bear oneself with dignity
when in this fine costume.

The modern married belle at a dinner
is apt to be dressed in white with much

crystal trimming, with feathers
in her hair, with diamonds

on her neck and arms, a coronet
on her head, (which is not

republican) and a pair of long, brown
Swedish gloves drawn up to her shoulders.

The recent edict of the Queen that
high dresses and long sleeves may be worn

on a Presentation will revolutionize
costume in England.  It however

gives elderly and delicate women
a great advantage, as only the marble

skins look well
on a cold English morning.

Manners and Social Usages,
by Mrs. John Sherwood (author of “A Transplanted Rose”)
1884, revised in 1897