THRIFTY AND SCALY

My mother asks me what is in my duffel bag. “My lunch,” I say. “I mean, my gym equipment.” There is no way I am paying $28 to see some fish. To get into the aquarium for free, you sneak around to the rear loading docks, unzip your duffel bag and remove your giant trout outfit. Making sure no one is watching, you strip down and step into the trout. Throwing yourself to the ground, you shout, “There’s a big trout out here—help! It’s dying,” and you thrash about, whipping your tail and head violently until the metal door swings open, and Sarah and Nick, the aquarium interns, lift you and carry you to the safety of your tank.

 

THE FIRST TETRAPODS

Rib Fest provided us with great
opportunities, in particular to eat
ribs out of the sides of cows, their
juices dribbling into the grasses
of Victoria Park. But when I arrived
there were no ribs left, all the ribs
were gone, but there was a little
cole slaw and a forest of trophies
for Best Ribs, Juiciest Ribs, Most
Intellectual Ribs, Spiciest Ribs,
Most Shapely Ribs, Tangiest
Ribs, Most Tender Ribs, Ribs
With Most Tendons, Happiest
Ribs. Now here is the remarkable
thing: the cows were content. Rib-
less, their torsos collapsing, they
grazed by the bandshell,
listening to songs by Charley Pride.
“The first tetrapods were aquatic,”
Heather explained to me. She was
an estate lawyer with a certain
flair who had once flown to
Istanbul for work. I made a joke
about “Phoenician blinds.”The
rib chefs took down their booths.
They were wracked with pride.
I forget what happened next.

 

TORONTO

They all lived on Queen Street they
wrote novels about living on Queen
Street they wrote novels about
writing a novel on Queen Street they
all appeared in each other’s novels
there was this one bartender there
was this one musician there was
this one girl from camh she smoked
du maurier cigarettes everyone
looked into the sky the clouds were
sort of weird a bat sailed above
the telephone wires and swooped
behind a warehouse taxi cabs
whipped back and forth Depeche
Mode leaked out from a bar a kid
wearing a Keep On Truckin’tee
pulled a red wagon along the
sidewalk in the wagon was
the actual Queen of England her
name was Elizabeth Two behind
her her corgis trotted along
barking at inanimate objects
when the people of Queen Street
realized who was among them
they sewed together fig leaves
and made they for themselves
aprons of modest splendour