Sunday Poems 43: Climbing the bridge

When I was in high school art class, our teacher showed us a method for making bizarre, almost human figures out of packing tape. After wrapping a friend (or yourself) in cling wrap, you roll the packing tape around and around the subject enough times to make a semi-rigid exo-skeleton. With a pair of scissors, you cut the subject free with a clean slice down each limb, then apply more tape to mask the cuts which the escape from the sculpture required. What you end up with is a human form which is inevitably just a little bit off, because the parts of the body which will compress more easily look thinner than they usually appear when looking at a clothed human. The head is emotionless, mostly featureless.

This morning, someone who knew this technique created an installation on Edmonton’s High Level Bridge. Five of these tape figures were affixed, appearing to be climbing up the suicide barriers (which I’ve written about before). I took a few pictures on my cellphone. A cyclist stopped to take pictures with me. One of them had started to lean backwards off of the fence. I guess it couldn’t make the trip. The Edmonton Journal reported on the installation, and the publication seemed to be bewildered by the whole thing. Their photo had the following caption:

“Figures posed scaling the west side of the High Level Bridge suicide barrier mysteriously appeared Sunday morning. It’s unclear why or what they mean.”

Sundays are nice days to wake up early and go for a walk. They’re also nice days to stay up late going for a walk. A sliver of the waxing moon low in the sky over the river, and a bench to lean against in a clearing on top of a hill. A bat flies, but you missed it because your head was tilted back, trying to figure out why the big dipper appeared to be missing a star. Below is a poem. Read it to a friend if you want to practice playing with words on your tongue. Apologies for the lack of poem last week, I spent last Sunday in the worst of a bout of stomach flu. I spent most of the week in bed, and I’m very happy to be upright. As always, I’m here if you need to talk. Have a great week, everybody.

washing dishes

lemonade on a hot day,
a squirrel spiralling around the spruce trunk
just outside the window.

carefully drying the knife
after using it
so it doesn’t tarnish.

oils glossy on the surface of the water
an ice cube turns to fallen crystal
an elbow fells the glass the same.

this was flu week:
another person stayed home today,
eyes looking through tubes.

but after a few days
an ache in the lower back
from lying for too long.

Originally published August 7, 2016.

Theodore Fox is a poet living on Treaty Six land in Canada.
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