Lecherous lake tongues the lip of this island,
its story as wet as we remember it,
coaxing erosion with a slyly lobbed promise.
The bay’s scythe-smile of shoreline widens
and skin-tinted dunes shoulder close,
baring secrets in a leeward drift.
We trail along, hoping to overhear,
In the visitors’ centre beachside we stop to read
pieces of flora, fauna, ecology, geology, and
the glass-encased rumours of a brute New World.
But sherds of that wilderness life yield
complex words, arranged in no telling way:
The page of a father’s Sunday shirt
lies still white and blank; silence
punctuated by a collar stud.
A blue wedding dress and its lacey trail
hover above misplaced objects
of china, a cake plate, the tarnished
stray syllables of silver odds’n’ends.
Here, a faded parade photo shows,
despite cracks, an Orange town
new as the last century was then.
And there – a boy in saggy
man-suit posed with his class by
the shack of The Schoolhouse,
his pupils a towering rural argument
against his slight, bookish stance.
All names are lost.
Offshore, to the west, in Huron’s inky deep well,
some say LaSalle’s ship Griffon
waits like the nib of an old pen. Submerged
for three hundred years, word of it
has never died completely.
By the lighthouse at Mississaugi,
divers still haul tales from waves
and finger black slivers, wood
stripped from ribbed spines splayed
like the dead on cold muddy lakebed.
We gather round the remains,
keen to read the damage,
interpreting our own story.