Valerie LeBlanc. Rue Botsford et Boulevard Wheeler, 10 – 11 am

10h- 11h
Moncton, N.-B.
Rue Botsford et Boulevard Wheeler
I chose the busy corner of Rue Botsford et Boulevard Wheeler, Moncton as it afforded me the opportunity to search for an object I had once seen in the ditch while driving by there. During the hour, the object, never found, grew in importance and posited bigger questions.

Grocery cart abandoned in the tall grass,
slammed on its side.
Not what I am looking for.

How quickly it changed from high summer to late.
I make my way through menacing waves
all pumping late summer pollen
in the company of infamous
camouflagers of pathogens.

Ragweed,
golden rods,
guard rail,
traffic never stops.

Here and there places where people shelter
out of the rain and into the night.
Even cement at the sides of this train bridge offers respite,
but none could sleep in all of this noise.

Even without a train running above,
the cars, the trucks, and the motorcycles overflow
the limit of sound capacity.
The sleep of the semi-conscious
is the most to be hoped for.
Not the sleep of dreams,
but the in-between
with a weather eye open,
ready for flight.

If not weeds, then mud,
and always bulrushes
filtering water left for dead
in the fonds of the ditch
with the mud and fungus.

Up high on the underpass
300 graffitti
surprises me.
C’est quoi ?
Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire ?
From Spartan reference to contemporary film meme
revived to witness holding out against the odds.

My business here ?
to avoid the hit
in the hit and run
of an endless stream of traffic.

Could I ever still hope to find her basket here ?
And if she is alive,
maybe even she
would have let it go by now.

The rushes have grown over the place
for years beyond her difficulties.

Here in the rushes
everything is absorbed,
cleansed
in the greens
taller than me,
part of here,
now.

The surprising thing,
almost no rubbish by the side of the road.
Everyone passes here quickly.

Look at that.
A perfect rush.
Bull rush ?
No.
It’s bulrush,
cattail,
reedmace,
cumbungi,
swamp sausage,
punks,
family Typhaceae.
Perfect.

And now they all stop for the red
and hope that the train does not arrive
to sit heavy above their heads.

Everyone passes
as I,
and her basket,
and maybe she,
stand here.
North/Nord 134.
East/Est 115.
15, 2, 134 South/Sud.

And now I have found the missing trash.
Fast food packaging and cigarette butts
at the place where wheels slow for the yellow.

As a stone in my boot
calls time for a break,
I glance up
and see
what I came for
without knowing
it was here.

A perfect play of light spreads
spring green in late morning,
a rarity of colour for August
amid rushes spreading like palms.

Suddenly
through the fronds
the memorial I never knew was here
becomes visible.
And I ask myself, why here ?

SUNNY,
a cross and flowers made of plywood
that’s not aging well.

Who are you and why are you here
where the basket once was,
across from the power station
tucked in the tall grasses ?

I always thought that the basket would be findable
if I could make it here on foot.
And now I find that the trace is gone,
swallowed by the land and made cold.

A stone in my boot,
small price to pay
for the pleasure of this
slow search among the weeds.
The sun in my eyes,
leaves in the breeze,
wind in the rushes.

Relentless traffic,
clangs, roars, shudders, grasps,
all of the road and the air space.
It goes by for as long as I stand here,
while this weeded hill holds its peace.

I now rush back
to rejoin the day waiting for me.
A city crew arrives to repair the road.
Maintenance is always calling,
basket or no.

And up above it all,
rumbling through each day,
the train passes.

Only now do I hear Top 40 and Country & Western
as, unfortunately, a few drivers turn their air conditioning off
and open the windows to share tunes full blast.

A laundry basket,
ordinary
yet personal.

My friend’s uncle gave her a woven basket
with backpack straps, bought in a native community
somewhere in the Adirondacks.
The one in the ditch was painted white.
I thought I could always come back to find it.
I only ever saw it through the window of a moving car
and I wondered how it could have ended up there.
I thought it was lost while moving,
blown out of a pickup when no one noticed.

But how could no one notice ?
It would have gone bump
in the darkest of nights.
And why not come back for it ?
I began to think of it
not as an object
but as a person abandoned in that ditch.

In that first summer, I saw it until the reeds grew taller.
I may have seen it once more in the next spring,
and since then, never.
But the idea of going back for it persisted.

And now,
not in the ditch
where the basket had been
but above,
a few yards up on the bank,
hidden amid the tall grasses and bushes,
I am struck with the idea that SUNNY
is the missing person I always imagined there.
And the owner of that basket.

Valerie LeBlanc

 

Valerie LeBlanc
Texte publié dans le No.21 Acadie24