George Bowering

Changing on the Fly

George Bowering

2005 Canadian Shortlist



Pale Blue Cover

In the middle of the night Matt would fly to Vancouver so
  he could take a walk on the sea wall the next day, then
  go home.
Wouldn’t tell anyone, no telephone call, just run a scene
  through his peculiar Ontario head, no snow on that
No one can imagine Matt teaching religion at McMaster,
  Matt eyeing math in a Bay Street shop window.
Here’s the man expecting every book to be break-
  through to best seller Toronto, Spanish doctors
  couldn’t even do it.
English patients could do it, Spanish doctors, get out of
  town. Spanish girls, you can forget it.
Matt was planning to write a hundred novels, line them up
  like matched jewelry, strike a shovel into the heart of
  bony Canada.
Mix a metaphor, wrestle a fish in a northern river, propel
  prose like nobody’s business, business had nothing to
  do with it.
In the middle of the day Cohen was a wry anglo saxon
  typing on a rocky farm, two thousand words before
Remain wry, people like me catch you lost in thought down
  there at the other end of the table, face turned to the
  corner with imagination in it.
We remind ourselves of this undreamable sephardic rock
  agriculturalist, shovel bouncing off some kind of
  precambrian anapest.
He really thought he could get across Canada, get over the
  twentieth century, pick the whole country up and turn
  it over.
No one will ever know what he was thinking on the red-eye,
  patriot satyr grin on his lip.

From Changing on the Fly, by George Bowering
Copyright © 2004 by George Bowering

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