Climbing Mount Royal, 2020
You’re twitchier than usual coming up this path
that shadows the curves of Camelien Houde road
but at least you’ve sloughed off the windy effluvia
of other people’s sidewalk breath as you slowpoke
up the last three turns to the guard-railed belvedere.
Here’s where muscle cars idle in parking spots. Fans
of flaming tailpipes pass blunts between leather seats
till someone coughs which sparks a round of guffaws
and loud heckling. You remember that kind of a scene
taking place five decades ago in someone’s apartment.
Can it really be that long? Taj Mahal and The Doors
provided background music in the last years of a war
that ended on an embassy rooftop. You sat in circles
in rooms reeking of patchouli oil, while somewhere
graduate students struggled onward to their degrees.
You wonder if the guys in that Camaro give a crap
about becoming accountants or even laying cement
so it doesn’t crack after the first frost. Looking east
to Rougemont, you attempt to quiet your thoughts,
seeing them as clouds hanging over Mt. St-Hilaire.
At last, you stumble onto the Olmstead summit loop
with its west-facing glimpse of Lac St-Louis. That,
surely, is what you came for—a far off panorama
of shoreline and river that just keeps on flowing
beyond jammed ICUs and sleep-deprived nurses.
Aren’t they the ones you should be saluting
as you head for Beaver Lake, Tu Fu’s Selected
riding in your back pocket? All honour to that
frail court advisor who, despite bouts of asthma,
penury and near-death treks over snowy gorges,
could praise the hoe he used for digging wild roots.
photo by Harry Rajchgot