Monday, April 23, 2007

Leg-in-Boot Square

Since January, I've been living in the False Creek neighbourhood of Vancouver, in a condo on Leg-in-Boot Square. Every time I tell someone my new address, I get some sort of response to the name, usually something about how cute it is. Well, it's not really. It's named for a mysterious severed leg that washed ashore in False Creek, still sporting its footwear. The name is pretty appropriate for this neighbourhood. It used to be highly industrial; any human residents were dirt poor, often squatters, and they shared their shoreside shacks with large, hungry rodents. Every now and then you still see a rat scampering across the seawall, but in the 70s, False Creek was transformed, almost overnight, into a gentrified, middle-class neighbourhood. This was part of the construction boom leading up to Expo '86 and now that the Olympics are coming to Vancouver, another massive construction project is underway, in SE False Creek, to house Olympians and Vancouverites after the games have ended.

George McWhirter has announced his intention to edit and publish an anthology of Vancouver street poems--a kind of verse atlas--as a legacy of his laureateship. Before he became Laureate, I'd already written a couple of theme-appropriate poems. Places seem to be important to what I write. I've lived in a lot of them and most of them have made it into my poetry in one way or another, so now that I'm living in Vancouver, it's not surprising that some site-specific Vancouver poems are happening, a couple of which I've already posted here on CLM. Here's my latest effort:


So much reflected, so much exposed, in facades
Of glass ringing this cobbled courtyard
Built on fill. This Creek not merely False,
But dammed, dyked and walled,
Cranes opposite intent on concrete erector
Sets, booms indexed to a boom in the sector,
Also false, fuelled by empty
Specs and green dreams of Olympian
           Once, rats scrabbled in the rattle-trap shacks
And sheds they shared with schizos and whacked-
Out addicts.
                        And once, a limb washed
Ashore, saltchuck sloshing
In the boot it still wore, unclaimed
By any owner.
                          Cute? No. This place is maimed.


1 comment:

mike said...

Wow, sounds like it was a rich industrial neighborhood. Richer than two-legs-in-a-boot square in Pittsburgh.