Sunday, January 17, 2016

Poetry as fact-finding: "MOUNTAIN" and The Mount Royal Tunnel

In this intriguing CTV News video, "Forbidden Montreal: Inside the Mount Royal Tunnel", we see the railway tunnel through Montreal's mountain.  The tunnel also appears in my poem, "Mountain", in Shimmer Report.  Wikipedia tells us itl was built in the early years of the last century to give the CNR access to downtown Montreal. By any reckoning it was a major project, and is still the second longest railway tunnel in Canada. Funny, I wrote the poem without knowing of its existence. After penning the poem, I went online to see if we had indeed, as I say in the 4th line, "tunnelled through" our mountain, and discovered we had! Poetry, too, can be a form of fact-finding.


We’ve placed a cross on your shoulder, 
erected a transmission tower,
planted a spindly flag.

We’ve tunneled through you,
necklaced you with roads, paths, 
apartments, mansions clutching 
like pearls at your throat.  

You, who pressed forth
forced by unrelenting magma, 
who rose
earthen breast, back

Now the city gathers round,                                         
temples, spires
obeisant to your deep bass voice—
but freeways, office buildings, industrial parks

We live beside you in tiny flats
watch phantasmal screens,  
eat, recline, 
groom ourselves for the daily backandforth
squirm into leather
for nights in halogen town.

Still—certain hours—you block the sun:
chilled by your encroaching gloom,
we peer from windows, terraces, to see you 
throw off our ropes and stays, to loom.

-- from Shimmer Report (Ekstasis Editions, 2015)

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