Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Irresolute, no pensive, I'd waited the night in a large empty room of the former Islamic Temple. Cold outside, the apparition approached on horse back not seeming to notice the chill.

Huddled in the corner, next to the heating vent which blasted to life with a disturbing jolt, I would have preferred a crackling fire but was here in a country where most rooms were fed dry heat from gas furnaces. I wrapped the dark brown wool blanket tightly around my shoulders and the drowsiness vanished as the tall weathered figure in a white deer skinned jacket and grey felt hat dismounted his fringes swaying gently attesting to the soft litheness of his quick confident movements.

He knew where he was and I decided, why not, to name him Robert. An unlikely name for a Métis scout. Yes, why not, not knowing anything about his past nor anything about this specific place I could have identified him as Cree. I didn't. I know there's an important distinction. (I'd never committed myself to settling anywhere till now and in my wanderings I was painfully aware of identity.)

His hands snapped brittle twigs from the air. The furnace behind me began to whine like something was caught in the vent and looking up he glared straight into my eyes. Do apparitions see the other world? The sound of the whining stopped but he continued to glare, right through me and out beyond towards the river nostrils flaring as if picking up some strong scent.

The horse neighed quivering but I could have imagined that having only once before been so close to what seemed a wild horse.