The King of Birds
Here are two memories I keep like photographs.
First is a field on fire, lit up in the heat wave of 1989
that tore through all of Ontario that August. A white van
at the edge waiting to collect us kids for the hospital
where mum hollered herself through another labour –
you this time – wild flames stealing up tree lengths,
rapid and terrifying, the hazy, broiling air
haloing the swing sets, our abandoned bicycles.
The next is of my father, always unfashionable,
edgy only as a teenager is edgy, drunk and careless,
thinly concealing kaleidoscopic turmoil, a frantic mania.
He is standing on a table – a lit cigarette in his hand
for character – he is telling a story to an audience: look
at that confident smile he wears, that double-dealing grin.
The story is an old one, spun to tease and to rouse,
an old one about a fox and a crow and hunger.