My nation’s two hundredth birthday’s is coming and
I’m leaving
The last exit from Brooklyn
A bus humming on to Montreal

The Oratoire de Saint Joseph
Displays worn crutches of the healed
Much quicker cures than my doctor’s trade
Medical school best learned by trained apes
Most apes too smart to train

I stroll straight into a man
Cool eyes don’t match fidget hands
Tells me his wife’s mantra
Mimes the swift anger of his children
Laughs as he cries

The museum guard cares not for Clemenceau’s pots
Hidden in suitcases during the war
His children are lost to him
His love too sad to love himself
In the bathroom I ask the mirror
How does this face make me confessor?

A woman in a gallery wears thick lenses, whispers
I married a man who loved the wilderness
Built a hut, grew our food
The child, the worries, mine

Good that Montreal keeps experts from afar
Beri-beri wrecked her sight
Can’t see anything in the night
Never told her tale before

Next week I cross the great northern continent
Fall for a teacher bound for the arctic
Freeze in a tent on the fourth of July
Hike the shores of clear mountain lakes
Reach the Pacific
Cold blue waves, ringing from the East

But I best remember those who told their tales
Who gave me what they could when
I was useless
Too young to know what they did

The Chinese say you
Must walk ten thousand li
Read ten thousand books
Before you paint the world

When you hear ten thousand lives
You too might learn to live