From the book Outskirts, published by Brick Books in 2011.
We’re sorry we’re so sorry but we are sorry. It’s a Canadian thing like tourtière or Irving. Picture a moose trudging through tundra towards another moose, antlers grazing maple trees that haven’t been cut down yet, the snort of exertion, the clomp of intent. That’s us trying to find each other in this wilderness so we can apologize for something: standing too close, standing too far. Being hard to find in the appointment thicket of our days. We’re sorry one of us invented frozen fish fillets because single-portion frozen dinners invented a new loneliness and the lonely bone, they say, is connected to the drinking bone. The rest, well, the rest is history.
Our apologies are welcome mats and engagement rings. The tiebreaker in overtime. Pierre Berton’s bow ties. Meaningful. We take an eternity to back into a parking spot and then feel sorry for all the unparked cars still circling; we’re even sorry for feeling a little lucky. And though having a pocketful of loonies is a good thing here, it sounds like something we should apologize for. We roll up the rim to win at the same place we see Jesus miraged on the wall beside the drive-thru window. We are sorry though for our ehs, our toques, about/aboot. We’re sorry for the poutine (but not for our beer or Leonard Cohen). We tap our trees and drink from there. We understand then what it’s like to blossom though we don’t speak of this. The sky is such a choir here.
We’re sorry how scared we get when our love sees its own shadow, how we disappear for a long season. We wish we could but often, we can’t. Désolé, désolé, we try. Our apologies are foghorns in the great sea of social gatherings where we pass each other like tankers gliding by the shore of an all-you-can-eat buffet. I am truly sorry for that last line. The poet John Thompson said we are brave at our kitchen tables, brave in our beds but cowards under the moon. We are sorry for that as well. The moon has a way of calling us out from our homes and we stand beneath its whiteness, stripped of nerve. The trees are an endangered silence then, witnessing. Winter is a mystery. The night breathes us in and waits for what we have to say for ourselves. The shift must happen now. Transformation. Our apologies braver, migrating into the realm of reprieve when we hear ourselves say: forgive us and then what can we do?