was spent on a train, l’Ocean,
heading back to Montreal.
We had kissed the night before, just
a tentative touch as we said goodnight
while crawling into our separate berths.
We are nearing the end of a journey
to Nova Scotia Highlands, the Canadian
national park on remote Cape Breton Island.
At 47 degrees latitude, it’s about as far north
as people live in continental North America.
We spent one week in a quite habitable cabin
on sparsely settled Aspy Bay, nestled among wild
rose bushes near a deserted beach. Each headland
extends a protective arm out to sea, beaconing today’s
explorers where John Cabot sighted a new world in 1497.
More than 500 years later, the Cape remains
a lonesome rugged coast, pristine virgin forest.
We cautiously shared one hiking trail with a female moose,
heard scurries of creatures unseen among the ferns
and fog of the coastal bogs. We plied the ribbon
of scenic highway watching for whales at Pleasant Bay,
trekked to hidden waterfalls brown with tannin from the pines
covering the scrabble-top hills. Scrambled over the rocky spine
of a volcanic shoreline rich with fossils from another epoch.
We tried it all, and now we’re heading back by train.
“Please close the window shade,” you intone politely
as you roll over in your upper bunk, not realizing that I
sit dressed in the lower one, waiting to breakfast with you
at the dining car. In companionable old age, both
remain lonely individualists. Each still dreaming
of a lasting tribute, careers and kids having long gone
their own ways. You and I are on our own, alone
in a new era of discovery, seeking the me and the you
who met back in Indiana more than 45 years ago.
first published in PKA’s Advocate!
also published in Illinois State Poetry Society
©2005 Bonnie Manion