From Mount Royal the dead watch over the city:
perched on tombstones they hum vespers and chew
…………………………………………on autumn leaves.
Down St-Denis the rush hour cortège
caravans past café patios where October
beer foams from pitchers; on St-Laurent sprawls
of vintage shops proffer fox fur, faded
denim jackets, military boots sans eyelets.
The dead thrift-hop and smell the souls
of sneakers or finger breast pockets of
corduroy blazers in search
of their old lives. They hunt in vinyl
record shops for songs they fell
in love to: Raymond Lévesque trances
and la gigue fiddle dances.
A construction crane in the distance,
a giant tonearm in the sky.
The chic—vibrant with colour—prowl
memory’s fabric for discounted gems, pull stories
from hangers, a rattle of coins on glass counters
and they vanish on ten-speed bicycles. The dead
follow their old scarves wrapped around cyclists’
necks and are whisked along St-Viateur
and Clark, or sit on handlebars
and fill with great élan. At night, they walk
hand in hand with dead chéris on old tryst strolls.
Riding La Ronde’s Ferris wheel in silence
and crossing bridges of reminiscence
to school mornings when they ironed sweaters
and wool cardigans, sewing back buttons
on reversible vests—a time before
their clothes were ironic
and it was cool to look poor as a poet.
Now the dead smile, and hitch a ride on the brim
of a hat or sleeve of a coat back to their graves.
Yusuf Saadi’s first collection is forthcoming from Nightwood Editions (April 2020). His writing has appeared in journals including The Malahat Review, Brick, Best Canadian Poetry 2019, and CNQ.