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Cold Colloquy

So we red-eyed it from Vancouver to TO
where it was cold as February, you know—
and lined up for BLAKE—in letters six-feet high—
that morning some twenty years gone by
outside and inside the AGO.
This ‘optic heart’ remembers
the burnished and intricately lined copperplate glow
of his Canterbury Pilgrims—what happened
if the burin slipped?

That evening as Frye held forth
on Blake’s Bible Illustrations (sans slides, of course)
one found them gently arising
in one’s still sleepless mind to his discourse.
Afterwards chatting with him and a few others
over coffee and cookies (it being the U of T)—
our wives discussing the Group of Seven—he
confiding that ‘Urizen is necessary,’ me
mentioning that I knew a poet whose zip-
code began with LOS: he
registering that with an augenblick.

Next morning outside the hotel at dawn I catch
a cab and am joined by a sudden highjacking stranger—
for the short ride to the Gallery (no danger):
guy sitting beside me says, ‘I’m Bill Mitchell.’
I almost reply I’m Haile Selassie
but manage, ‘I’ve read your book,’
whereupon we both lapse into jet-lagged silence.
Then he reels off,
‘If Blake wrote this when he sat down to shite
What could he not do if he sat down to write?’
‘Yeah,’ I mutter, feeling a bit warmer as we arrive.

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