Hand In Hand

by Duncan McNaughton

Carlisle, the tailor, though otherwise a
clumsy man, sat taking his ale and a
helping of rhubarbserviceberry pie.
The last of an overcast, foggy day
added to the dimness that had settled
on his thoughts. The discreet Chinese bell
that hung from his shop door seldom chimed any,
Sartorialismo, along with so
much else that had once made humane sense, had
been tossed to the dustbin. Those days were gone
from Saskatoon. Bankers had become worms, the
barons of commerce and politics, worms,
the gamblers and sharps gusanos all. The
old class of gentlemen brought in their shirts
for the collars to be turned, their fabrics
were fine, buttonhole stitch was respected,
waste hadn’t become a virtue. Appearance
had been understood to be a metaphor.

Carlisle’s rooms were above the shop, ample
enough for himself and the Cree woman
that looked after them and him. Grateful as
she was for his silences and he for hers.
He’d picked up enough of her tribal speech,
she of his native Spanish. Neither cared
much for Colonial English, but then

in cold weather they skated together,
arm in arm, when the pond was a mirror.