Waves by Kris Demeanor

This is the first piece written by Kris Demeanor as Calgary Poet Laureate. Presented in City Hall Chambers on March 19, 2012.

My mother always claimed the safest, slowest through lane comically early

Gladly hindering progress to forego the uncertainties of merging

My Dad preferred the rapids to the steady stream

Relied upon the abiding whims of strangers in half ton propulsions to let him in

And time and time again, they let him in

And whenever he angled and squeezed

When signal lights and politeness collided

The still hand, fingers splayed

A goalkeeper after pleading the penalty kicker to wait saying okay I’m ready

Or the two fingered hinge, the airforce pilot’s economical salute

Or, when he really pushed it, and nearly clapped the shoulder, his family braced against the seat backs and dashboard, preparing for impact, wailing Jesus, Dad!

Still the less reckless commuter moved over

And the gratitude then was the full arm sweep that said – I fully acknowledge your sacrifice and need you to know it!

Time and time again, his encapsulated brethren

Let him in – and he let them in

You don’t see this in Berlin, or Copenhagen

Maybe Edmonton

Hunger for connection

Here is as a close a dose of humanity as the daily crush allows

Or perhaps merely thirsty for basic courtesy

Through 57 years of change this courtesy remained

At 16, he wandered Crescent Heights with a hammer hoping for work on a construction site

And now Dad has handed me that inert old shotgun from the basement shelf and pissed off to a place of moss and free range egg stands and quaint cafes

And waves

And his abstract landscape, the split horizon of yellowed chaff and muted blue with a solitary barn

Is on the wall, a raised hand in the rearview

A distant thank you for making room while snaking home from Forest Lawn

Making space for four of us to wonder, and sprint, and learn, and curse, and gorge on Chinese food

And drive to and from the homes we knew that blazed with life and now silently absorb the strains of strange goodbyes

Like drivers spending collective months of their lives inside

When trapped by the indifference of circumstance

We don’t know why we do

We don’t have to

But because it feels right

We reach out

And break through