Once the raccoons fled the sun’s rising
we sat on the front steps and watched smoke
drift up and dissolve to join clouds across the horizon
that might as well have been the atomized breath
exhaled by every writer who came before us.
Our neighbour played tenor sax
along with James Brown, and the sunlight
did barrel rolls from the aftermarket spoilers and
polished chrome of souped-up Civics,
winked at us from the sunglasses of
the Vietnamese women who waited—staring
at their phones in silence—for the first bus to Burnaby.
The landlord wouldn’t be by to threaten us
for days. We may not have said aloud that
success, a white lump of a house, the light of the sun,
were simply owed to us, but we felt it
when the garbage truck tilted around the corner.
Even before the spill settled in the street
the smell of seventeen kinds of putrified waste
chased us gagging, out of the light and back
inside, pleading coincidence.