Thursday, September 29, 2016

Our First Visit Home

2 July 2008

We quarrel. We are too hot.
We have been on a road trip
With no known destination
For weeks. I can't walk. She can't
Pay her own way through a day.
Having savored adventure,
Now we resent each other.

Our hotel room is hotter
Than the Nelson BC streets
Down which we push, sometimes me
But mostly her, my wheelchair.
She leaves me to go shopping
And buys a little black dress,
Defiant dependency.

Back in the sun oven room
We peruse places to stay
We could reach, cooler than this.
We find the "Dome Quixote,"
Online, looks cute, north of here.
She calls. A woman answers,
"Sure, we'll leave the disabled

Unit unlocked, key inside,
And leave the light on for you."
We back out of the sultry
Hotel parking lot and clip
A black Mustang's back bumper
But never stop, not past deer
Or sunset or Silverton

With the strings of Christmas lights
Decorating the defunct
Roadside hotel at sunset.
We drive until we make it,
In the dark, to the open
Door of the ridiculous
Dome among domes, and go in.


Last night, before we dozed off
Under the dome's cream ceiling,
I stroked her hair and she said,
"You don't do that anymore,"
As if we were long married,
Not just three months a couple.
It made me smile. This morning,

I climb into the wheelchair
And roll out onto the porch.
I'll be damned. The air is cool,
And what looks like a glacier
Caps a mountain towering
Over the end of the street.
One stoplight blinks placidly.

I grab the wooden railing
And pull myself to a stand.
I haven't walked in six weeks.
Leaning and clinging, I shift
My weight, hands, feet, hands, feet, hands.
I shuffle ten steps and back,
Then collapse into the chair,

Triumphant. A good day's start,
A memorable day. We
Spend it wandering the street.
She takes photographs: the lake,
The giant chess set, old walls
Flaking paint, children and trees.
She wears that sexy black dress,

Casual but form-fitting,
Clingy hemp as thin as crepe.
We visit a gallery,
Make friends, buy a small painting.
At The Raven's Nest they have
A wheelchair-friendly washroom.
All day the distant sky glows.


We've been making enquiries.
How do we stay here longer?
We're besotted with the place.
The domes are booked up solid
For weeks, starting on Sunday.
The Friday farmers' market
Has booths with cheerful vendors

Happy to speculate. "Hmm,
Isy is building a place
On Bigelow Bay, cabins
She says are wheelchair friendly.
Join us for dinner tonight."
People like we like their town,
Which feels to me like a set

Built for a location shoot,
Meant to look historical
But a little too perfect.
Hippies, loggers, internees,
Miners, second-home owners
From Vancouver, Calgary:
Tensions feel real but faint, blurred.

On a summer day, there's joy,
People strolling the few blocks,
The lake, the postcard mountains,
And an energetic calm
Unique to Slocanada.
So we let a strange woman
Have us over for dinner

On the lawn behind her shack.
We listen to her daughter
Torture a fiddle a while.
We roll my chair to the shore
And look out over the waves'
Million-eyed lenses of light,
Out to the houseless green wild.


Not long after we wake up,
Comes a knock on our dome's door.
Isy, short for Isolde,
Introduces her tall self:
"Our cabins aren't finished yet,
But one will be by August."
We discuss alternatives

With her, as she generates
Names of places we might stay.
We go to see her cabin,
Maybe ready in three weeks.
How, until then, shall we live?
We drive up north, to Nakusp.
Another lake, not as nice,

And an accessible inn,
Ugly, renting by the week.
No magic here, but, across
The street from the hideous,
A cafe called "Middle Earth"
Serves organic Tolkien
Sandwiches. Too delightful,

Too strange. We eat and make friends.
In a year we will send them
A postcard from New Zealand,
The far side of Middle Earth.
But that's neither now nor here.
The weather has turned. We drive
Back in the rain to realize

We've already decided
On a narrow stretch of shore
By a blackishly deep lake
As the place we want to stay.
Showers patter on our dome.
We believe we'll find a way
To stay near to Brigadoon.


We check out. Anxious and calm,
We work through our list of tips:
The chiropractor renting
A room the next village down
Who asks me if I need help
Taking a pee. B-&-Bs
Further south, Slocan City,

Passmore Road and Vallican,
Offering monthly rentals
A wheelchair could roll into,
The woman loathe to let us
Test her freshly made up beds,
Et cetera, and so forth.
We lunch in a logging camp.

I wait in the car. It rains.
She stalks docks, her camera
Up, my lovely sandpiper.
I listen to the music,
Bluegrass introduced to me
By her, that seems to soothe me,
My feckless stupidities.

"Tomorrow, like yesterday!"
Ok. I can take the bait.
Let's just roll with this as if
Every day were already
Yesterday. My cell phone trills.
There's a place up past Nakusp,
Another lake, "Inn for Two,"

They could accommodate us,
My wheelchair and all, five nights.
Close enough. We head on up.
When we get there, it's perfect.
But as soon as we roll in,
Happily scheming, we plan
To live at our lake again.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.