For the American Deserters
Their parents want them to be dry sticks,
old bones with bits of meat still on them.
They want to carry them out at night
in bags across the lawn to the incinerators.
This is if their parents are rich.
When their parents are poor, their parents want them
to become electro-magnetic radiation.
To fly through the atmosphere to Cortez, Colorado
and jam certain radio broadcasts
They want them to become tiny faults on the ink rollers
of the village’s printing press.
They want them to be snow.
After a time, the parents grow lonely.
They are uneasy even while eating
and during station breaks on the television.
Their rib-cages hurt when they breathe.
For the first time in fifteen years, they go out
to City Park. They find the plaque about the 1864 Flood.
Right away, they want to move to Florida and look at the ocean.
At night they dream about rain.
The people of Vancouver want the deserters
to be birds, sea-gulls.
To fly high as an eagle and
disappear. They want them
to be walking along the street
and turn into something delicious,
some marvellous confection Now Available In Canada.
The people of Vancouver do not want anyone
to be lonely, or hurt, hungry or frightened.
But there would be nothing they could do
if anyone were. Sometimes they wonder why
the deserters are becoming an Army again.
Wayman, Tom. “For the American Deserters.” Waiting for Wayman. Toronto: McClelland, 1973. 62.