Bus 99, Vancouver

Two men share a pair of headphones,

‘Oh, I love these political songs.’

He — red hair, dilated pupils—

looks as though he wants to rest his head on his companion’s shoulder.

The other — dark eyes, hair still wet from the shower—

‘Isn’t this Chumbawamba?’

eyebrows raise

A joke?

‘Reminds me of Britain’

Their words are too loud

Surrounded by swaying passengers on the bus

Red fumbles with his earbud

‘It’s about the whole institution

You know.’

He softly sings

‘aya-ya co-co jumbo’,

Wet Hair sticks out his lip

soft, plump

raking it with his teeth,

Red watches and slowly lowers his head onto the man’s damp shoulder.

Lake Lovely Water, Vancouver

We sweat through our backpacks,

Tripping over unstable river stones

Searching for the bright plastic ribbons that flutter

guiding us up

this fucking mountain.

Higher —

Scrambling up steep cliff,

nails deep in dirt.

Three hours in, I stop to adjust my pack and when I am done, I cannot see the others.

Panic.

I am a child lost in a supermarket

Around me, deep green and the smell of pine needles.

There are patches of snow.

What will I do when night comes?

A voice.

Thirty seconds. Only a few moments.

I’m ashamed by my weaknesses in the face of this wilderness.

We reach the campground and the lake is frozen.

In my boots, my toes are numb.

In the cabin there are stores of dry wood.

Steam rises from my socks above the stove and I

can’t shake the memory of a story I once read,

A boy and his father walking in the snow

A yellow moon and an owl.

We don’t see any bears

but out on the ice is a broken log

— its bear shaped if you squint.

I dream of walking alone in dark widening circles

hooting forlornly.