It’s three in the afternoon; the sky is overcast and whitewashed as water steeped in old paint. The dog barks as if he were taking a meat cleaver to the walls, and the house writhes, then settles, then the dog woops and my father takes a fist to his jaw. We live in a two-floor flat overlooking the Lachine Canal, where in the summer swarms of French Canadians slip and skid along the bike paths as a creel of eels navigating a coral reef. Every once in a while, a dawdler in stale cleft boots, one of those red-nosed, trench-coat-sporting older men, would climb onto a picnic table and lie there for hours, inhaling the thick river wind. A young girl would catch a bee beneath a bell jar, women would lounge on the unfolding grass as if it were a beach, cars would purr as hardihood boys would fetch treats and sunscreen from trunks, and beyond the slope shouldering into the canal, squeegee punks would loll and let their manes unfurl.
Now it is December, where the maples sketch with charcoal across padded snow and crows silhouette the sky. I am twenty-four, to me the clustering sparrows that gather on tree branches seem like bushels of grapes; I wait for that moment when the tide of my life will eddy inside my mind as a quantum flux inside a letter box, apart from the chirp of noisome birds. Now there is time to spend, moments to listen and watch. Walleyed old men don`t stoop or stand in reverence of the day, as I would peer out from my window sill in July. They sway as steeple towers, harbouring in place of church bells an old radio frequencies on loop. The sound channels those once coffeehouse chats, echoing off the laden stone wall of that shaft, reverberating into marriage parades and the whimpering of past lovers, synthesising into a single note of their lives.