Silver Islet Tragedy

August 3, 2012


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First, we go to the Thunder Bay Lookout
Too scary to step right out to the end
where the earth drops away into nothingness
and feet are lodged in the sky
How wide and blue
the bay and the lake and the sky seam together 

The kids have no fear
and beyond the first minute, no interest
They dive behind in the bush
and scream for the others and mothers
The Russian family nudges us in their car
all the way out of the bush again
And we go faster by the tall elegant
arrow straight white pine than we want 

On to Silver Islet at the very end of the spit
Where the famous General Store
Has been restored to personal tchatchkas
Thick with nostalgia and blue ware
Dark wooden shelves full of days
And a little café at the back
Sometimes open sometimes not 

The young girl Emma
Serves us on the deck outside
in the sun where we overlook the dock
Beef and barley soup with homemade biscuit
And homemade apple pie or lemon meringue
And tea, iced or hot 

Shall we ask where the silver mine is?
We’d like to visit.
The elderly lady at the cash says you need a boat
And here’s the picture
She points to a patch of sea
That shows rectangular in the spreading blue bay
That’s where the mine shaft was
That gave the most silver in all the world
Flooded long since
The site a danger to divers
Who explore at their own risk
That’s privately owned. 

What about this catalogue asks my sister
of the old man at the general store’s counter
That’s got the history in it he says
We published that ourselves
Now if you want to see the other sights,
I can tell you where to park your car
and then walk back a piece and through the trailer park
And don’t mind them if they claim
you shouldn’t walk through their place
It’s better than paying the gate
To see the sea lion that’s formed like a rock 

But what about the mine asks my sister
You can’t see anything except from a boat he says
My son made this catalogue for us
He was a diver and went there often
And then went diving all over and
He died diving in Thailand in ’06.
We gasp and say
Please accept our condolences.
He goes on like he hadn’t heard
Well we thought we had someone to give the store to
And folding one arm over and holding himself
he says now we have a tiger by the tail.
I bow at his shaking smiling mouth
And pools of no admittance in his eyes
At his gaping open chest
With the bloody beating heart
That was all full of tragedy
Privately owned.


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