A City on the Edge

St. John’s is
gnawing on my bones.
You can’t take it in
with tiny sips; you have
to choke it back, you have
to swig it down. You have
to wheeze about and stagger.

In St. John’s,
the houses tumble uphill
if such a thing is possible
and the entire place-
the streets, the squares, the alleyways-
seems to have been laid out
without the aid of a ruler
(and possibly while
under the influence of screech).
From Hill O’Chips to Mile Zero,
from Water Street to the colourful homes
lined up on Jellybean Row:
the city is full of angles that

St. John’s is, as the Irish say,
“a great place to get lost in.”
Wander around long enough,
though, and you will
eventually end up
at the harbour
as surely as water flows downhill.

Great ships lie tethered, bleeding
rust into the bay,
and rising and falling
on s l o w exhalations
of water. From the pier,
the bay looks like a landlocked lake,
the Narrows sealed off by
perspective and distance.
The very air
tastes of

I am homesick for St. John’s,
and it isn’t even my home.
I miss the city and I think of it often,
the way one wonders about
a boozy uncle who comes crashing
into your life every couple of years
and then charges off,
leaving a trail of tall tales
and laughter in his wake.

It is a good city, this fishing village
on the eastern edge of
North America.

It gnaws on you.

From The City on a Rock, Will Ferguson, Macleans.ca, 21 July 2003. Submitted by Megan.