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#15 Any Known Blood


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#15 Any Known Blood


BOOKMARKS 1–5     |      BOOKMARKS 6–10    |    BOOKMARKS 16+


Bookmark #15 Oakville, Ontario

Any Known Blood, by Lawrence Hill


It was slow going because of the mud on the roads. Captain Wilson had his trousers tucked smartly into boots that came almost to his knees, and he seemed not to mind leaping over a puddle here and stepping around oozing mud and horseshit there.We walked up a steep hill from the harbor. Navy Street, which we came onto, looked like a fairyland. Houses spaced neatly apart. Stone foundations, painted wood walls. Neat, small windows with many small, square panes of glass. Finely sculpted doors, brass doorknobs. Horse-drawn wagons pulled by steadily, drivers calling out to Captain Wilson, many in that same, sing-song, womanish voice with which he spoke. Where I came from, men didn’t put such music into their talking voices. Up here, men and women chattered like birds.
– from Any Known Blood, by Lawrence Hill, published by HarperCollinsPublishersLtd.
Bookmarked at Oakville, October 5, 2015.

Project Bookmark Canada founder Miranda Hill with author Lawrence Hill at the October 5, 2015 unveiling.

Project Bookmark Canada founder Miranda Hill with author Lawrence Hill at the October 5, 2015 unveiling.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton and author Lawrence Hill at the Any Known Blood Bookmark unveiling.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton and author Lawrence Hill at the Any Known Blood Bookmark unveiling.

 

Bookmark #15, Any Known Blood was unveiled on October 5th, 2015 by author Lawrence Hill and Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, at the corner of King and Navy Streets, on the grounds of the Oakville Museum. The narrator in the Bookmarked passage is a fugitive arriving in Canada via the Underground Railroad, making his way to the safe house of Captain Robert Wilson, a real Great Lakes shipping captain who lived in the yellow house across the road. After you visit the Bookmark, be sure to include a stop at the Oakville Museum, to see the exhibits on Oakville's Black history and on the Underground Railroad.


About Lawrence Hill and Any Known Blood

Lawrence Hill was born in 1957 to American immigrants—a black father and a white mother—who moved to Canada the day after they married in 1953 in Washington, DC. Growing up in the predominantly white suburb of Don Mills, Ontario, Hill was greatly influenced by his parents’ work in the human rights movement. Much of Hill’s writing touches on issues of identity and belonging.

Hill’s books include The Book of Negroes, which won CBC’s Canada Reads, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Prize for Fiction and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, and was made into a popular television mini-series. In 2013, Hill delivered the Massey Lectures based on his book Blood: The Stuff of Life.

Any Known Blood was published in 1997 and tells the story of five generations of a black family moving back and forth across the US-Canada border. Hill wrote the novel while living in Oakville, and drew on the resources of the Oakville Historical Society and the Oakville Museum for some of his research. Many actual Oakville locations are featured in the story, including Captain Robert Wilson’s house on Navy Street, which appears in this scene.

Any Known Blood is published by HarperCollinsPublishersLtd. and is used with the kind permission of the author.


The Passage

Oakville was a prosperous town, full of huge oak trees. They had so many oak trees that they made a business of cutting them down and sawing them up and sending them across the lake.
Paul and I helped Mattie and three deckhands and three men from shore unload the schooner. That took the better part of three hours.  I was bone tired. And I was hungry. But I was in Canada, and I was free, so bone tired and hungry didn’t matter. When we finished, Captain Robert Wilson asked us to walk with him to his home. I asked if he was a Quaker, and he laughed and said no, a Presbyterian.
It was slow going because of the mud on the roads. Captain Wilson had his trousers tucked smartly into boots that came almost to his knees, and he seemed not to mind leaping over a puddle here and stepping around oozing mud and horseshit there.We walked up a steep hill from the harbor. Navy Street, which we came onto, looked like a fairyland. Houses spaced neatly apart. Stone foundations, painted wood walls. Neat, small windows with many small, square panes of glass. Finely sculpted doors, brass doorknobs. Horse-drawn wagons pulled by steadily, drivers calling out to Captain Wilson, many in that same, sing-song, womanish voice with which he spoke. Where I came from, men didn’t put such music into their talking voices. Up here, men and women chattered like birds. Many were out on the roads, dodging the potholes and mud, women hoisting their skirts when necessary. I saw some black folks, too. Some looked our way, nodded gently, and kept at what they were doing. None of the Negroes seemed to lack employment. They carried buckets, drove horse teams, opened doors to sweep dust into the street.
Captain Robert Wilson lived close to the harbor, in a fine two-story house that sat on a foundation consisting of slabs of gray-brown stone. Later, I would learn that it was shale, pulled from the bed of Lake Ontario. The walls were painted yellow. I tapped one as we stood at the door. “Pine,” the captain told me, “cut down not two miles from where we stand.” I noticed, as we were heading in, one or two gaps in the foundation. They were just big enough for a brown rat. The captain asked us to remove our shoes in a mudroom just inside the side door, walked us into what he called a guest room, which had a proper bed, and told us to put our things down, which took all of a moment, since I had but one bag, and Paul Williams had nothing at all.

Donors & Sponsors

The Town of Oakville
Whole Foods Market
ReMax Aboutowne
Terry Smith
Francine Landry
France Fournier
Don Pangman
Jennifer Doherty
Jeremy Schaal
Mags Shorey
Lee Anne Downey
Cari MacLean
Kathy Hannay
Lana Hockey
Anne Hood
Jane Sandercock Ho

Barbara Renshaw Walker
Blythe Ward
Martha Campbell
Gord & Lynda Phippen
Vanessa Barr
Sue Bartholomew
John Burega
Gemma Hagerman
Michael Shaen
Anita Mackey
Lee & Joanne Farrow
Stephanie Leggett
Maggie Goh
Lynn & Howard Lightfoot
Leslie Ann Bent
Andy Smith

Silvia Edwards
Hughena Matheson
Kristen Knott
Mary Beth Doolittle
Marilyn Weber
Janet Andrews
June & Ian Cockwell
Kerry & John Houlding
Jane Hawkrigg  
Jamie Macrae
Patti Harbman
Kim Bernhardt

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#14 No Great Mischief


#14 No Great Mischief


Bookmark #14 Port Hastings, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

No Great Mischief, by Alistair MacLeod


Ferry the dead. Fois do t’anam. Peace to his soul.
‘All of us are better when we’re loved.’
– from No Great Mischief, by Alistair MacLeod, published by McClelland & Stewart.
Bookmarked at Port Hastings, October 1, 2015.

The MacLeod family celebrates the unveiling of the NO GREAT MISCHIEF Bookmark. Photo Credit: Weldon Bona.

The MacLeod family celebrates the unveiling of the NO GREAT MISCHIEF Bookmark. Photo Credit: Weldon Bona.

Project Bookmark Canada Founder Miranda Hill shelters Anita MacLeod at the unveiling. Photo Credit: Weldon Bona.

Project Bookmark Canada Founder Miranda Hill shelters Anita MacLeod at the unveiling. Photo Credit: Weldon Bona.

 

On October 1, 2015, we unveiled Bookmark 14, for No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod, at the Nova Scotia Visitor Centre in Port Hastings on Cape Breton Island. The Bookmark was made possible through a collaborative and joyful effort by a number of organizations and individuals (listed here) and with the enthusiastic participation of the MacLeod family. The Bookmark is the first in the Maritime provinces. Visitors to Cape Breton will now be greeted by the final passage from the novel, and the words of the author who introduced Cape Breton and its stories to so many readers around the country and the world.


About Alistair MacLeod and No Great Mischief

Alistair MacLeod (1935–2014) was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan to a Cape Breton family. They returned home to the MacLeod farm in Dunvegan, Inverness County, when he was 10.

In his early adulthood, MacLeod worked as a miner and a logger to finance his education. He studied at St. Francis Xavier University, the University of New Brunswick and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, where he received his PhD. He settled in Windsor, Ontario, where he raised six children with his wife Anita and taught English and Creative Writing for more than three decades at the University of Windsor. Each summer, MacLeod returned to his home in Cape Breton where he wrote much of his fiction in a small cabin overlooking the sea.

MacLeod’s books include The Lost Salt Gift of Blood (1976) and As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories (1986), which were reissued in 2001 by McClelland & Stewart as the single volume, Island. The novel No Great Mischief was published by McClelland & Stewart in 1999 and won numerous awards including the Trillium Book Award and the omas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award.

In 2001, MacLeod received the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, which introduced his fiction and the island of Cape Breton to readers around the world. 

No Great Mischief is published by McClelland & Stewart. This excerpt is used with the kind permission of the MacLeod family.

Banner photo credit: Weldon Bonas.


The Passage

Tomorrow when the day breaks we will see what is now invisible around us. It will not all be pretty. Near the open water the bald eagles will pounce with mighty talons upon the white-coated baby seals. They will scream in different voices as they rise above the blood-stained ice. “You’ve got to take the bitter with the sweet,” Grandma used to say. “No one said life was going to be a bed of roses.”

I recognize all the familiar landmarks, although it is dark and there are mountains of snow. Here is the place where Grandpa threw the top of his whisky bottle out the window the day we were returning from my graduation. The day the red-haired Alexander MacDonald was killed, although we did not know it then. The day his mother bought him the shirt.

I turn to Calum and he is still, though his eyes are wide open, looking at the road ahead. Once we sang to the pilot whales on a summer’s day. Perhaps we lured the huge whale in beyond his safe depth. And he died, disemboweled by the sharp rocks he could not see. Later his body moved inland, but his great heart remained behind.

By the glow of the dashboard lights I can see the thin scar on Calum’s lower lip beginning to whiten. This is the man whose tooth was pulled by a horse. This is the man who, in his youthful despair, went looking for a rainbow, while others thought he was just wasting gas.

The car crests a high hill and in the distance, across the white expanse of the ice, I can see the regulated blinking of the now-automated light. It is still miles away. Yet it sends forth its message from the island’s highest point. A light of warning or, perhaps, encouragement.

I turn to Calum once again. I reach for his cooling hand which lies on the seat beside him. I touch the Celtic ring. This is the man who carried me on his shoulders when I was three. Carried me across the ice from the island, but could never carry me back again.

Out on the island the neglected fresh-water well pours forth its gift of sweetness into the whitened darkness of the night.

Ferry the dead. Fois do t’anam. Peace to his soul.
‘All of us are better when we’re loved.’


Donors for No Great Mischief

Good Foundation Inc.
Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia
Destination Cape Breton Association
Cabot Trail Writers' Festival
Sarah Emsley
Hughena Matheson
Caroline Matheson
Anne Emery
Don Oravec and Jim Harper
F. Peter and D. Bernadette Kahnert
Susan Lightstone
John Godfrey
Anita Lahey
Donna Stackhouse
 

Faris Shammas
Monique Nemni

Larry Murray
Paul Coghill
George Goodwin
Brett Murray
Stephanie Morley
David Wilson
Georgina Fitzgerald
Julia Thomson
Harvey Swedlove
Richard Sobkiewicz
Elizabeth Muggah
Alphonsus Walsh

 
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#13 The Republic of Love


#13 The Republic of Love


Bookmark #13 Winnipeg, Manitoba

The Republic of Love, by Carol Shields


...Fay has only a vague idea who the noisy quarreling couple on the floor above her are, and no idea at all who lives in the crumbling triplex next door, though she knows, slightly, two of the tenants in the building across the street. Her widowed Uncle Arthur lives one street over on Annette Avenue, but she knows no one else on that street. Some days she can wait anonymously in the bus shelter at River and Osborne and speak to no one, and the next day she’ll run into any number of acquaintances. These surprises used to drive Peter crazy, the oppressive clannishness they implied and the embarrassments, but Fay again and again is reassured and comforted to be part of a knowable network.
— from The Republic of Love, by Carol Shields, published by Random House Canada. Bookmarked at Winnipeg, October 24, 2013.

Winnipeg Councillor Jenny Gerbasi and Don Shields, husband of the late Carol Shields, unveil Bookmark #13. Photo by Leif Norman.

Winnipeg Councillor Jenny Gerbasi and Don Shields, husband of the late Carol Shields, unveil Bookmark #13.

Photo by Leif Norman.

Project Bookmark Canada Founder and Executive Director Miranda Hill, Winnipeg Councillor Jenny Gerbasi, Gas Station Arts Centre Executive Director Nick Kowalchuk and Don Shields. Photo by Leif Norman.

Project Bookmark Canada Founder and Executive Director Miranda Hill, Winnipeg Councillor Jenny Gerbasi, Gas Station Arts Centre Executive Director Nick Kowalchuk and Don Shields.

Photo by Leif Norman.

 

The Republic of Love by Carol Shields is the 13th Bookmark in our cross-Canada series of sites and stories, and the first in central Canada. It can be found at the corner of River Avenue and Osborne Street in Winnipeg's Osborne Village, near the bus stop referenced in the passage. The host for Bookmark 13 is The Gas Station Arts Centre, a multi-disciplinary space for artists that owns the land the Bookmark stands on. Bookmark 13 was unveiled by Don Shields, husband of the late Carol Shields, and Winnipeg city councillor Jenny Gerbasi, and was made possible through the support of The Metcalf Foundation and the Carol Shields Literary Trust, along with contributions from individual donors around the country.


About Carol Shields and The Republic of Love

Photo credit: Neil Graham

Photo credit: Neil Graham

Carol Shields (1935-2003) grew up in Oak Park, Illinois. While attending university in the United Kingdom, she met Canadian engineering student Don Shields. They married in 1957 and Carol moved with Don to Canada. Together, the couple raised five children.

Shields wrote poetry, plays and non-fiction. But she is probably best known for her fiction, for which she won numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Pulitzer Prize and the Orange Prize. Shields was also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, served as Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg and was named a Companion of the Order of Canada.

The Republic of Love is published by Random House Canada. The Bookmarked excerpt is used with the kind permission of the Shields family. The installation is generously hosted by the Gas Station Arts Centre.


The Passage

“I know Molly Beardsley,” Beverly Miles told Fay at lunch. “Jim Beardsley’s first wife was my sister’s best friend.”
This kind of thing is always happening to Fay, circles inside circles. Last week Hannah Webb told her she’d attended an evening seminar on menopause given by a marvelous woman, a Dr. McLeod. “That’s my mother,” Fay said. “Peggy McLeod? That’s my mother.” 
The population of Winnipeg is six hundred thousand, a fairly large city, with people who tend to stay put. Families overlap with families, neighborhoods with neighborhoods. You can’t escape it. Generations interweave so that your mother’s friends (Onion Boyle, Muriel Brewmaster, and dozens more) formed a sort of squadron of secondary aunts. You were always running into someone you’ve gone to school with or someone whose uncle worked with someone’s else’s father. The tentacles of connection were long, complex, and full of the bitter or amusing ironies that characterize blood families.
At the same time, Fay has only a vague idea who the noisy quarreling couple on the floor above her are, and no idea at all who lives in the crumbling triplex next door, though she knows, slightly, two of the tenants in the building across the street. Her widowed Uncle Arthur lives one street over on Annette Avenue, but she knows no one else on that street. Some days she can wait anonymously in the bus shelter at River and Osborne and speak to no one, and the next day she’ll run into any number of acquaintances. These surprises used to drive Peter crazy, the oppressive clannishness they implied and the embarrassments, but Fay again and again is reassured and comforted to be part of a knowable network.
When her former lover, Nelo Merino, was transferred to Ottawa and wanted her to come with him, she had to ask herself, in the sternly analytical style she favored in those days: Do I love Nelo more than I love these hundreds, thousands of connections, faces, names, references and cross-references, biographies, scandals, coincidences, these epics, these possibilities? The answer, and it didn’t take her long to make up her mind, was no.
Geography is destiny, says Fay’s good friend Iris Jaffe, and Fay tends to agree.
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#12 The Jade Peony


#12 The Jade Peony


Bookmark #12 Vancouver, British Columbia

The Jade Peony, by Wayson Choy


Luxurious blasts of steam penetrated every fibre of the coat. The machinery hissed and sang; the flames danced blue and red in a ring beneath the water heater. The wool material stiffened “like new” in the mix of chemicals and steam. The brass buttons began to gleam in the sunlight pouring from the store window. Gee Sook pulled the last panel through the steam and then swung the heavy, now quite stiff topcoat majestically off the machine. Everyone stood back in the narrow work space of American Steam Cleaners.
– from The Jade Peony, by Wayson Choy, published by Douglas & McIntyre.
Bookmarked at Vancouver, October 15, 2012.

Wayson Choy unveils Bookmark #12.

Wayson Choy unveils Bookmark #12.

Project Bookmark Canada Founder and Executive Director Miranda Hill with author Wayson Choy.

Project Bookmark Canada Founder and Executive Director Miranda Hill with author Wayson Choy.

 

The Jade Peony is Bookmark 12 in the cross-Canada series, but at the site on the southeast corner of Pender Street and Gore Avenue in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown, you will find two plaques: one with The Jade Peony passage in English and one with the passage in Mandarin. The Bookmarks were made possible with the assistance of the Metcalf Foundation, the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Writers Fest and a collective of individuals brought together through the fundraising and promotion of The Asian Canadian Writers’ WorkshopGung Haggis Fat ChoyHistoric Joy Kogawa House Society and Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society/explorASIAN. The Bookmarks were unveiled on October 15, 2012 by Wayson Choy and City Councillor and Deputy Mayor Raymond Louie.

Banner photo credit: Monica Miller, Peak Publications Society.


About Wayson Choy and The Jade Peony

Wayson Choy was born in Vancouver in 1939, and his family’s experience in that city has inspired much of his writing, including his first novel, The Jade Peony, published in 1995. The Jade Peony is told through the eyes of three children in an immigrant family, living in Vancouver’s Chinatown in the 30’s and 40’s. Mingling with the realities of Canada and the horror of war are magic, ghosts, paper uncles and family secrets. The Jade Peony and its companion novel All That Matters (published in 2004) feature many recognizable locations around the city. The American Steam Cleaners cited in this passage was located at the corner of Pender and Gore.

The Jade Peony shared Ontario’s Trillium Book Award for best book in 1995, and won the 1995 City of Vancouver Book Award. All That Matterswon the Trillium Book Award in 2004 and was shortlisted for the 2005 Giller Prize. Choy’s other works include two memoirs (Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood and Not Yet: A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying). Among Choy’s many awards and honours is his appointment, in 2005, to the Order of Canada.

Wayson Choy lives and writes in Toronto, Ontario. This excerpt is used with the kind permission of the author.

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The Passage

Liang and I used to like sniffing the smell of the drycleaning chemicals mixed with the bolts of cloth and bags of material lying everywhere around Gee Sook’s shop, and we had fun watching the long blasts of steam shoot into the air as we threw handkerchief-sized rags at the machine and they rose like kites against the large picture window. Sometimes Liang and I just sat mesmerized looking at the fire lit in a ring beneath the water heater tank in the corner of the room. Gee Sook could make the flames dance up and down and hiss at will. 
But now I was twelve years old, too tall and grown up to be patted on the head by Gee Sook. At his cheerful greeting, I shook his hand and stood patiently still while he expertly checked the inside of the coat now lined with the navy-dyed cotton twill Poh-Poh insisted was bess-see for long-lasting wear.
“Good job,” the tailor said, and quickly threw the coat over my shoulders and brushed over it, dusting away loose threads. At last, Gee Sook raised the garment onto the massive steam-pressing machine that he worked with a wide foot pedal; he began raising and lowering a metal panel, pulling it down with one hand, as he wiped the fog from his wire-rimmed glasses with his other hand.
Luxurious blasts of steam penetrated every fibre of the coat. The machinery hissed and sang; the flames danced blue and red in a ring beneath the water heater. The wool material stiffened “like new” in the mix of chemicals and steam. The brass buttons began to gleam in the sunlight pouring from the store window. Gee Sook pulled the last panel through the steam and then swung the heavy, now quite stiff topcoat majestically off the machine. Everyone stood back in the narrow work space of American Steam Cleaners.
Gee Sook slowly draped the coat over me.
“Jung looks like the young Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek,” Mrs. Lim said, clapping her hands. “We should take a picture.”
“This is a man’s coat,” Gee Sook grandly announced. “All of you women stand back.”I felt intense heat embrace my shoulders, then curve over my back and drop upon my chest. I felt like a young warrior receiving the gift of his bright armour, a steely-grey coat born from fire and steam.
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#11 The Sea Breeze Lounge


#11 The Sea Breeze Lounge


Bookmark #11 Woody Point, Newfoundland

“The Sea Breeze Lounge,” by Al Pittman


It’s a warm overcast Bonne Bay afternoon.
There’s a slight north-east breeze on the water.
Inside, Black Hat George is tending bar.
He, myself, and one other patron are the only
people here.  The younger man has made his way
to the gambling machine with the aid of some
awkward machinery designed to keep him
upright.  A truck ran over him in Toronto
and he’s come home to learn to walk again.
— from The Sea Breeze Lounge, from the collection Thirty-for-Sixty by Al Pittman, published by Breakwater Books. Bookmarked at Woody Point, Newfoundland and Labrador, August 2012.

The Pittman family at the location of the former Sea Breeze Lounge, Bonne Bay, NL.

The Pittman family at the location of the former Sea Breeze Lounge, Bonne Bay, NL.

 

About Al Pittman and “The Sea Breeze Lounge”

Al Pittman was born in St. Leonard’s, Placentia Bay, in 1940 and was raised in Corner Brook. He was a co-founder of the seminal Newfoundland and Labrador publishing company, Breakwater Books, the creative force behind The March Hare festival, and the subject of radio, television, and film documentaries. Pittman wrote poetry, short fiction, children’s literature, several plays, and the lyrics to a number of songs that have become part of the folk canon of Newfoundland and Labrador. Pittman’s books include Down by Jim Long’s Stage, West MoonDancing in Limbo, and An Island in the Sky: Selected Poems of Al Pittman. In 2001, the year of his death, Pittman was awarded a Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for his poetry collectionThirty-for-Sixty.

“The Sea Breeze Lounge” is from Thirty-for-Sixty. The poem takes its title from the business that was once housed in this building. Pittman was a regular here and a fixture in the Bonne Bay area, which he loved.

Thirty-for-Sixty is published by Breakwater Books. This poem is used with the kind permission of the publisher and the Pittman family.


The Poem:

The Sea Breeze Lounge
It’s a warm overcast Bonne Bay afternoon.
There’s a slight north-east breeze on the water.
Inside, Black Hat George is tending bar.
He, myself, and one other patron are the only
people here. The younger man has made his way
to the gambling machine with the aid of some
awkward machinery designed to keep him
upright. A truck ran over him in Toronto
and he’s come home to learn to walk again.
The pool table stands staunch on its crutches.
The juke box is silent, all its hurtin’ songs
sung to silence because pain can be fatal
and machines and people do break down.
Of course, I’m here too, about to give up
and perhaps give out for good. But for now
I’m one of three survivors who’ve almost
survived so far. Almost isn’t a good feeling
but it shall have to do for now. You are
(my dearest darling, wherever you are)
surviving like the rest of us.I would like
to be of some assistance but the hazards
that have brought me here drag me down
like a heavy harness, an iron cross.
There’s not much comfort but plenty
of solitude in The Sea Breeze this overcast
afternoon. There’s a determined young man
learning to walk again. There’s George
who wears his black hat with wild-west
authority. He has one leg left and a vigorous
hop in every step he takes down the seaside
street at high noon, sunset or any time of day.
And there’s me, the picture of health
and wholeness (scared to death to stand up
lest I fall flat on my face.)
I think it’s worth it, whatever else our obstinate
ailments are, that we don’t fall down, that all three
of us (and you) do our best to walk upright
and go with hope to wherever we are bound.
Right now I know we three could use a drink.
And this round’s on me. But, most of all as far
from here as you happen to be this round’s
a toast to you, your agility and your vigorous ascent
to the top of your dreams.
 

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