The project to exploit Quebec’s northern riches is a relatively recent phenomenon. Given the vicissitudes of this process, it seemed pertinent to reexamine the changes in the landscape. In Fermont, a town located in northern Quebec, mining companies have shaped the landscape into a panorama of exploitation, both of northern natural resources and of workforces. These photographs illustrate one of the most extensive opencast mines in North America, the iron mine of Mont-Wright, the hydro-electric dam, Manic 5, the workers’ camps, and the provincial 389 North road.
Adam showed her his employee card. His full name was Adam Garfield Trash. Lea wrote it on the schedule. She kept an eye out the window for Donald and Daisy, the ducks who lived by the picnic tables on the fifty feet of dead grass between Mr Bowtie’s Drive-Thru Burgers and 16 Avenue North. She hadn’t seen them yet today. Travis mocked her for naming them.
“They’re gonna die. This is no place for wildlife. This is Canada’s highway.”
Then exile is over
But I, a pilgrim with soles of sand,
Am only stopping by
On my crossing of memory
I felt the nerves of a first amorous encounter, just as if I was face to face with a stranger I desired intensely, something inconceivable given that our conjugal relationship had just celebrated its first decade. If these feelings took me by surprise, it was not because I was indifferent to my wife’s body, nor that my wife had been ugly before her plastic surgery a few years earlier: her lips, already full, were now perfect, and her slightly aquiline nose now had an ideal shape. Her silicone breasts were finally worthy of my adolescent fantasies, while her shapely body and statuesque legs completed a dream physiognomy which, twinned with a sweet personality—of which, I should point out, she was in possession before all these improvements—has filled me with unparalleled happiness for all these years. But with the passing of time, I admit that I no longer noticed these alterations; so used to them had I become that I barely gave them any thought.
Today there was a 24-car crash
on the highway to heaven
It is the heart that sees essentials
The survivors are buried in quilts
We must enter the tunnel before
we can find the light at the end
you’re alright, we wouldn’t want you to go
cross-eyed looking at the film through
the spokes of the steering wheel, between
the long silences that buffered the mystery
of the pillowed darkness in the back seat.
Never once did I look back, but kept my eyes
on James Stewart and John Wayne
in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
This was before doughnuts were hip. Before college kids and yoga instructors and graphic designers were willing to shell out four bucks for a single hand-crafted, artisan-designed ring of deep-fried dough. I served coffee and mopped the floors, filled the sugar containers and napkin dispensers, and wiped the burnt-orange countertops, emptied the ashtrays. This was in the days when you could smoke in restaurants and the stale smell of cigarettes rose off the yellowed walls in tiny wafts like the whispers of decrepit, bitter men. Mostly, I was there to decorate the doughnuts.
A volleyball girl wrapped her arms around my waist to help me down but collapsed with my weight. We fell into the dirt and someone said, Look, they’re dikes, so she started laughing and grinding her hips against mine. I didn’t resist. I had lost all feeling in my body anyway. I told myself to laugh. Laugh like her.
Dustin arrived at the party in his blue truck. At school my hands would grow clammy around Dustin. When he smiled it made my belly squirm. We hadn’t talked yet but I had rehearsed conversations in my head. When the phone rang at home I prayed it was Dustin on the other end even though he didn’t know my parents’ number.
Sometimes I imagine standing next to him in the dark. The blood is sticky on my boots, there is a silence reaching across us like the sky, and all of the fences and all of the walls that keep things neat and tidy have toppled over. I can see us from above: two figures in the halo of light from the town’s only streetlamp in the middle of the black and roiling Atlantic Ocean.
His name was Joe. He was 22. Her name was Rose. She too was young. I was 15.