SHIFTING BASELINE SYNDROME
A cup of coffee was always a dollar fifty. The fisheries were always at
their current level. From the windows of an airplane the Great Lakes
were always noosed in four-lane highways. The land was always
distributed in neat tight little stamps. There were never any birds
here. A moose was always a rare sighting. The bats were always
dying. The wilderness was always accessible for the day rate of
twelve-fifty a car, and the highly reasonable season rate of a hundredand-
fifteen. Speaking of cars, there were always cars. There were
always tailing ponds. There were always spider webs of six-lane
highways, eight-lane highways, ten-lane highways. There were always
continents. There were always oil spills visible from space. There were
always clearcuts the exact shape and size of Kansas. We were always
one heartbeat away from cancer. There was always somebody to hate
and always a reasonable way to hate them. Our baselines haven’t
shifted—you have. We were always hemmed in by landfill, our rivers
were always flammable, our lakes always figments of our imagination.
There was always a view from the airplane window. Always.
Aaron Kreuter resides in Toronto. His first book of poems, Arguments for Lawn Chairs, is out now from Guernica Editions. A collection of short fiction, You and Me, Belonging, is forthcoming from Tightrope Books. His poem “Fan Fiction” was originally published in Vallum 10.1 and was included in Best Canadian Poetry 2014.