Over Gower Street

August Kleinzahler

Rain a cab you
Standing there on the sidewalk, in the dark
The gathering thrum as the city awakens

A field of clouds below
Below the clouds the sea
On the screen overhead a movie

Across the great city
They are moving, the two of them
The freeways nearly empty
In pursuit, being pursued
Down ramps, among warehouses
A girl in jeopardy
A beautiful young woman in jeopardy
Before dawn, before the city awakens

On wet streets
The melting greens and reds of traffic lights
A cinematographer’s trick with a lens

An access road, the belly
Of a jet, so low overhead
You can read, within its logo
A message:

Why am I here? Who are you?

Because you chose to be here
I am who I appear to be

Across the great city
No, not that one, another
They are moving
Not those two, we
Not you and I
A friend and me, on foot
– Am I not a friend?

We are moving slowly
You can track us from on high
An aerial shot
Moving across the plaza
The river to our left, winding
As it does to the Bay
And the giant tower, the sleek green tower
Ahead of us and to the right

Six miles above Godthåb
The scent of you
Blooms in the aftertaste
Of the complimentary pretzels
Helio, the deep Atlantic
Titanium white, Iqualiut
Cornerbrook a burnt umber
The Labrador Sea cerulean

It is impossible to find a cab
When it rains like this
Come back inside with me
The lighting in the hotel lobby
The black wood panelling and frosted lamps
The darkness outside
I recall this from somewhere
I, other, outside this mise-en-scène
A movie, perhaps

– Who are you?

Night: burnt umber mixed with ultramarine
Cadmium moon
Clouds a zinc white
Quebec, on the screen overhead, green umber
Ground speed: 1042 km/hr
Weather at destination: windy

Brick sky pastureland
The train moves north from the city
Viridian with burnt umber
Prussian blue with raw sienna
Oxide of chromium green with light red
My friend there waiting, as always
By his car at the station
Ready to drive me back to his valley
With its apron reefs of limestone
Its rucks and folds, its ancient lows
Terra verte/phthalocyanine green
His cat and his piano
– Am I not your friend, as well?

– Hello. You have 19 messages.
To hear your messages press 1
First message: Where are you?
Are you all right?
We haven’t had word for weeks
Are you feeling yourself?
That passenger jet overhead
Where is it going

There on the platform
Making ready for a political rally
The old folk singer
You know this performer
He is doing a sound check
How many times has he done this before
The wind is picking up
Behold, the many banners
The clamour among the faithful
A maple, its leaves an alizarin crimson
Deepened and dulled by Indian red
You are at a latitude you know well
Or did once
You are unaccountably cold

There goes another, overhead
And yet another
Dispatched, it seems, without end
Cutting their engines
Or in steep ascent
Where can they all be going

We are in the north of the country
And in the eastern part
I forget which country
It may come back to me, perhaps not
What time does that make it
You are asleep now, surely

– I want you inside of me

I beg your pardon
Was that you
What was that you said

There are birds out there singing
It is the depth of night
What kind of birds sing at this hour
And in weather like this
Here, come listen
– Those aren’t birds, silly
That’s only the heat coming up

There goes another plane
Its engines reverberating in the clouds
Now sirens, too
Very like the sirens we heard only yesterday
Beside themselves, tearing their hair out
Screaming past us
In that other city
In the rain
In the darkness of early morning