First published in Frogpond 31:3, Fall 2008. Initially written in May of 2008 on a visit to the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Ontario.

The line through security moves slowly, but eventually we empty our pockets and doff our light jackets, place our belongings in plastic containers, and step through the metal detectors. The Parliament tour is busy, but now we’re inside, just under the Peace Tower, in a waiting area as the tour guide describes the fire that destroyed the original buildings. Today, we’re among the endless rounds of tourists who will visit the Hall of Honour, the library that survived the fire thanks to two iron doors, and the opulent senate chamber, with carpet and upholstery all in red to symbolize royalty. As we wait, a video screen repeats views of the rooms where we’ll be walking.


last tour of the day—

the guide’s shoelaces, and mine,