The subject of the poem “Alex” is the inability to communicate. It is the second poem in “Courting the Remembrances,” the opening section of “Covenant of the Lost Arias,” which deals with the irreconcilable omissions of personal and social interaction, and which forms the second part of four parts of the book Mahler and Freud Meet in Leiden.
It was written in Ucluelet, British Columbia, in April of 2010, and the setting may have been influenced by a trip made from Kelowna to Vancouver in 1992 with my in-laws through the mountains of the interior. But this is uncertain, for in the poem, we are in a yet earlier time, and in the Rocky Mountains. They may have been travelling to Western Canada from Montréal, but they could have arrived just as believably from Croatia or Russia. But the facts matter much less than the feelings. It is all so very long ago.
Wednesday, March 6, 2002, 10:45 am, Vancouver, BC
It is over twenty years ago. My father-in-law
And I leave the parked car and walk towards
The sheer cliff of stone in the midst of
The Rocky Mountains. He smiles slightly,
Pleased. I myself am not sure what I’m looking for.
However, it is a pleasant day, despite the gap
In communication as high as the mountains
And as long as the years. It is not deliberate,
As both our skills are inadequate. Both of us
Want to say something more, but cannot find
The way. We walk beside the cliff face, looking
Upwards from time to time to make a silent point
About immensity, and it is into this that he enters
Some years later, crazed by life, and all of us
Still unsure what to say and what to look for.
The poem is published by The Nashwaak Review of St. Thomas University, in Fredericton, New Brunswick. This is my work’s tenth appearance in The Nashwaak Review. Three of the other five poems in this section have already been published, two by the same Nashwaak Review, and the other in Saskatoon’s Grain.