Community

Spadina Road stretches north of Bloor, the hipster bustle of the Annex fading into a series of run-down apartments. The crush of vehicles on Bloor thins here, too; the noise of the traffic punctuated by the low rumble of the subway below. Walking north, on the left-hand side, I meet a high wall separating the sidewalk from the Native Canadian Centre, the NCC. In the evenings, smoke and song drift down to the road; sometimes there is music playing, children running barefoot along the wall. The campfire coals turn red, and then to ash, and groups of old men gather around a rusty bucket, tossing butts like horseshoes and speaking in hushed, gravelly voices.

There is a Community, just steps from my front door, of which I can never be part. But each day that I pass, the smoke and song remind me that, I too, have blood that flows red.

The Annex

She sat on the balcony every night
for the next three days,
smoking and drinking
black coffee
until the darkness gave way to the
uncertain
light of morning

Her thin hands
trembled,
held the mug,
cradled as a precious fragment
of intimacy
amid her fitful isolation

The sky flickered across
in alien hues,
she chewed her lips worriedly
the cigarettes were stained red
a metallic taste thickened
against her tongue

The low rumble of the subway
begins as early as five a.m.
beneath the streets
a great and terrible beast
is stirred from slumber

The people spill into the streets,
and the beast sighs and goes back to sleep.