Excerpts From Fear of the Ride

BY RONNA BLOOM // McGill-Queen's University Press, 1996



We’re supposed to float together on a witchy cloud
over Toronto. Bake cookies, chocolate sprinkles
silver coins; take trips up and down elevators;
find the exact velvet dress you want
and you’re supposed to buy it,
come home hugging it as though it were me.
We’re supposed to run from room to room
in the Royal Ontario Museum naming birds,
find eggs, feathers, gummy nests
in drawers just at your height and you’re
supposed to let me keep up but not get ahead.
We’re supposed to eat ice cream at Greg’s
watching ourselves in the mirror, watching
our tongues, supposed to take your
ever so much younger brother for a walk and you
get the apples because it's your job and you don’t
trust me to remember.
We’re supposed to play a game in which you tell me
I’m dead and I die for you, flat out on the couch,
waiting to be resurrected by you, but you don’t.
You’re supposed to, but you don’t.
You have me lie there while your brother, anxious
shakes my knees. You turn away toward indifferent
toward the house you’re building, me
waiting for you to bring me back say ––
I don’t want to be dead anymore
and you’re supposed to want me back, but you don’t.
You’re supposed to be seven now.
Supposed to be alive.
We’re supposed to do something.
I don’t know what, but we don’t.


You have a craving
it’s the tongue determination
you want a smoked meat sandwich.
Fat not lean, bread falling open to release
the meat. Your nose is sharp
your eyes are clear and scanning.
You go into a hardware store
ask for a smoke meat sandwich
fatty, and a coke.
They tell you they don’t make them
but you insist, you know what you want
your tongue is not wrong
and you rail at the man in the shirt with the buttons
pulling, believing he’s hiding them
In the back with the boxes of nails, bags
of salt. You can smell it on him, he’s just
eaten one and holding back.
You leave angry, threaten
to return again.

You go into a Laundromat, ask
for a smoked meat sandwich. Smell
of soap fills you nostrils and you suck in.
A woman looks at you not looking at you
and you swing around wildly
wondering where the kitchen is.

You walk down Spadina, notice a pickle
has rolled into the street, don’t know
where it came from. The sick smell of fish
rides your throat. You look
at the pickle with hope and keep going.
Enter a Chinese restaurant, ask for a smoked meat
sandwich. They offer you noodles
and eggplant and you think
you are getting closer.
You try some. It tastes sweet
and spicy on your tongue, hot,
it makes you cry and you leave.

Still you want a smoked meat sandwich.
You wonder if they make them in this town
maybe you’ll have to move, you’ve heard
there are such sandwiches on every corner
in Montreal; you can get what you want
24 hours a day in New York.

You walk south on Spadina
reach the fashion district,
go into a clothing store
ask for a smoked meat sandwich,
and the woman at the desk apologizes
says she has one
but not in your size.

The Job of an Apple

The job of an apple is to be hard,
to be soft, to be crisp, to be red,
yellow and green. The job of an apple is to be pie,
to be given to the teacher, to be rotten.
The job of an apple is to be bad
and good, to be peeled, cored, cut,
bitten and bruised. The job
of an apple is to pose for painters,
roll behind fridges, behind grocery aisles,
to be hidden, wrapped in paper,
stored for months, brought out in the dry heat
of India and eaten like a treasure.
The job of an apple is to be
handed over in orchards, to be wanted
and forbidden. The job of an apple is to be Golden
Delicious, Granny Smith and crab. The job
of an apple is to be imported, banned and confiscated
going through customs from Montreal to New York.
The job of an apple is to be round. Grow. Drop.
To go black in the middle when cut. To be thrown
at politicians. To be carried around for days. To change
hands, to change hands, to change hands.
The job of an apple is to be a different poem in the mouth
of every eater. The job of an apple is to be juice.

(also published in Viewpoints 11, Pearson Educational)