Since I released The Sun On My Palm, I have had several people ask me the story behind the poem, Kaintophobia Amongst the Arachnids. Here it is, for those with querying lips…
I wrote Kaintophobia Amongst the Arachnids in December 2014 during a period wherein I was driving from Peterborough to Lindsey everyday for work. This trip took about 45 minutes; however, it took me through at least six rural towns that inspired the poem – the ruins of what were centres in their own right in their time. It inspired me to think of the past and how it unfolded for these former centres.
sits on a web
with strands – the ribbons of roads
moulded by carcasses
wrapped as memories of cohesion”
Here I envisioned Peterborough as a giant spider, its web formed by the roads that connect the county together. I travelled these roads through the remnants of towns that dot the landscape. It became clear to me that the economies and progeny of these towns headed toward the bigger cities as time marched on.
“The carcasses are wrapped tight against change
for the evolution is over
and capacity spent
on ensuring what came before remains.”
My experience with these towns in a contemporary sense, is that of protectionism. After decades of continued loss of power and determination, these towns seem to hold onto a shared past of glory. Instead of working toward a new future, they frolic in the memories of the past.
“the sustenance drawn forth
as the children
the predatory, the transformer
casting off the carcasses; the husks of promise
to languish on the periphery.”
Industry took over agriculture in Ontario clustering people into cities. I identify them as the children, as they are the first to leave. Children naturally waft away to start their own lives, and the promise of non-manual labour, in the agrarian sense, can be a powerful motivator. The towns that were build by the hope of their ancestors was shed for modernity.
“But every predator is the prey:
the GTA bird that sweeps down
and gobbles the progeny
as they scamper from the egg sack
as if they were never meant to be
mature amongst the strands.”
The tide has flipped on cities like Peterborough, wherein the promise of a bright future has moved to the super city. The city wanes as, like it drained those towns around it of talent, it too now becomes prey to greener pastures. The cycle continues, as if motivation to leave were sown into the ground.
This is not a problem that is particular to Peterborough. Across the province cities face the same fate as economy turns its back on possibility. I experienced this growing up in Sault Ste. Marie, wherein at the time there were few options for youth. Innovation appears to be the key to weathering this storm. Smaller towns and centres have a greater onus to create something worth living for, something worth staying for.