New to the place, I thrust the blackout drapes apart; from a suite aiming west some four centuries up, my sightlines sweep to a stop on a hillside’s emerald arc.
Montreal’s matrix, like sheets of pentimentoed diagrams, parquets the earth beneath except where this green fin rips through. I thrum right then like a tuning fork, at the summons
struck by those heights. Downstairs, I can feel the city’s hem fraying as its streets cant up steeply, till a last curbstone frontiers what, with a shrug, my maps supply no paths for, bluntly daring
me to enter. So I enter. Encroached on by oaks and maples that seem stricken with some stark question, I must parry with selfies and labels. Gouged-through switchbacks lever me upward as smoothly as when,
a child, I could sleep through long rancorous car rides home as if still uncompromised… The woods admit the vista in shreds, its perpendiculars jarringly plumb, till I reach this plaza slung
out from the crest, and behold at last how the St. Lawrence runs like a cut, stitched with bridgemetal, across tar and cement accretions. Where the downslope flats, a stand of towers smokestacks level
with this terrace, my po-mo hotel among them. There, I thought here quaint and vestigial, not this shrine to a Cartier still gallant behind his fleur-de-lys and crucifix, still grappling these horizons as far
as now to his New France. What it takes to get a man plinthed I know from home, where our myths rear up real as monuments that brood, like scarecrows of bronze, over fields fructified by wrongs.
It’s time to go. Descent restores nothing but distance to what whispers, even through glass, of the first, the lost, and the last, of the all gone, of the soon going, and of that world, the new one, now coming.
The rot remains with us, the men are gone. ~ Derek Walcott