My grandfather’s boyhood friend
would visit on a long June afternoon,

and when it came time for him to leave,
I would walk the old men to the corner bus

that ran south toward the city. Everything
is gone now, the friends, the sparking trolley,

cables, though destinations remain the same,
as ingrained in the city’s face as streets,

arteries of lots and square-built houses,
the one-way pavement of roads laid out

in the waffle iron grid of a surveyor’s sight,
the pattern of stories passed from one

narrator to another. I retain images from
those afternoons because I cannot forget

the heat outside the pharmacy’s door,
the tiles in which someone had set green

a message of prescription signed Rx,
remaining where the drugstore stood.

The shelves and displays smelt of cloves
to lay upon an aching tooth, and mint

to cover the aftertaste that growing old
can bring, green as the pattern of tiles

that could have doubled as a chessboard
where knights awaited their next move.

Bruce Meyer is the author of 70 books of poems, short stories, flash fiction, and non-fiction. His poems have won or been shortlisted for numerous national and international prizes. He is a BMO Fellow for Exile Editions. He lives in Barrie, Ontario and is Professor of Communications at Georgian College.