RIVERWALK

Photo by Nicole Gingras.

Photo by Nicole Gingras.

 

On June 8, 2014, I took part in Bodies of Water, a performance organized by Victoria Stanton. Here’s what she wrote about it on her website:

Along the river, I would like to propose a group walk: an invitation for few or many to join me in a consciously constructed trajectory on the bike path. Bodies meeting in unison where sounds, movements, silence and stillness could simultaneously take place (our bodies of water next to this one).

Bodies of Water is part of the event Les Voisins, a Festival of Urban Actions. 27 Quebec and International artists are presenting more than 35 actions where the location, the date and the duration of the performance are determined by the artists themselves. Curated by Eric Mattson, Les Productions MINUTE.

Afterwards, I told her I’d like to write something about my experience. Here it is.

RIVERWALK

1.

Hot in the sun
Cool in the shade
We hesitate on the edge
Of MacDonald’s parking lot

High rise condos
Sentinels as we
Start
Silent
Small group
Following Victoria’s lead.

First subtle action
(After the walking in itself
Walking along the
Verge of the bike path)
We’re all
Flopping on the grass.

We lay on the grass
I focus on a tree branch
Above
Waving in sparkling sun

A couple nearby
Grow silent a moment
To digest the presence
Of Victoria’s Zen Gang
Then they pick up
Their conversational thread
And weave away

We breathe
Watch the trees
Feel the grass
Under collective ass

Photo by Nicole Gingras.

Photo by Nicole Gingras.

We’re quiet as we
Regroup and walk
The verge
Past treed park pathways

Quiet, in the midst of
Voices voices voices
Picnickers, baby strollers
Bicycles, roller blades

Quiet and by our quiet passage
We attract curious stares
Kids, especially
Stop, and gawk

But we’re nothing
A breeze along the verge
Empty-eyed
Dogging Victoria’s
Studied steps
In a loose formation
Taking in

The River

Glitters teasingly
Through screen of
Trees

With clusters of humans
Secreted along its shore
In the trees
Fishing or looking or
Talking or just
Sitting

There’s that song.
Song of the Redwing Blackbird.

After I moved from
West to East as a kid
I lost the song of the Meadowlark
Gained the Redwing
Blackbird trill

Down by The River

Victoria distributes twigs
From a bundle
Each of us chooses one
We stand overlooking
The gravel road
Where the boat trailers
Are hauled
And boats launched
Into The River

I’m holding twig
Between two extended
Index fingers
Flexing the stick
As I contemplate boats
And water and
Jetties

Slowly our gang is
Infiltrated by as many and
More camera-wielding
Men and women
Video cameras and still
All focused intently on
What, exactly?

Victoria leads us
Over an arching bridge
We make
Ratcheting, clanging
Rhythmic sounds
With our twigs
On its surface
And railings
Then leave our twigs
Like offerings
On empty
Boat trailers.

Photo by Nicole Gingras.

Photo by Nicole Gingras.

Onward along the verge
To the jetty where
Noisy families gather to
Paddle and babble and
Scope the strange
Zen Gang come to
Silently cool our
Aching feet
In The River

Again the group
Distrust of this
Silent incursion
Shifts soon to
Friendly indifference

Ducks, mama and
Babies trailing
The silent, focused
Flap of the Heron
As it follows
The River
And the guy out on
A kayak, standing
Like a gondolier
Until he loses balance
Pitches into the water

Cut by the
Thrum thrum throb
Of a racing
Motor boat
Towing a skiier
Who goes
Thump, thump, thump.

2.

Now we head back
In the direction we came
Only now on the
Serpentine path
Close by the edge of
The River

One of us splits off
Climbs a meadow slope
To commune a moment
With a lone wild rose
Before slowly descending
To join us again

We amble along
The River

The River
Its intimacy
Where lesbian couple
Talk relationship problems
Man in student horn rims
And woman in hijab
Talk, talk, serious and low
While waves lap
And baby Redwing Blackbird
Thrusts curious out of the foliage
To exchange a look with me.

Another Heron, flying low

A pair of Loons hurrying along

And a man adjusts fishing rods
Glances coldly at
Zen gang passing
In silence
By The River
In Silence
The River
In Silence
The River
In Silence

In silence we became
Of The River
Of this otherness
Backdrop to all this
Human chatter and
Busy re-creation.

Back at the marina
Victoria distributes apples
Munching, watching
A Mallard hen on jetty with mate
Watching us with
Keen interest.

A bombardier sea-doo
Zips up the river
Off hops father and daughter
We munch, munch

Another Redwing Blackbird
Young, eyeing us
Makes as if to approach
Changes its mind, shy,
Hops along the verge
Hunting for bird delicacies
As we munch, munch

Mother and daughter
Casting fishing lines and
Maman strips off shirt
Prepares for sun worship
Munch, munch

I finish my apple
Glance at my
Fellow River Walkers
Toss core to the roots
Of the tree behind me

Follow Victoria’s
Zen Gang

Up
Away from
The River

– 14 Jun 14 –

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