Monday, March 16, 2020

the last book I ever read (Cabbagetown by Hugh Garner, excerpt eight)

from Cabbagetown by Hugh Garner:

Ken Tilling lay in the shallow shelter of the CNR boxcar’s wooden walkway that ran from the middle of the roof to the top of the forward ladder. For three days the train had lurched, yawed and shuddered its way through and around the coniferous forests and blackwater lakes of Northern Ontario, heading west. The names of the small isolated division points were etched on his mind: Capreol—Hornepayne—Nakima—Sioux Lookout; but all he had learned so far was that the north country was a hungry country and that Canada would never run out of water or firewood.

Though it was early summer, nights on the top of the swaying boxcar were cold and the days were hot. He wore a shirt and trousers and a wool windbreaker, and his luggage and toilet articles were shoved into his back pockets—a safety thin razor, thinned-out bar of soap and a small towel, which he wore around his neck at night. His peaked cap was pulled down over his ears against the grit and smoke, and his face was sunburned under its black bituminous coating. Scattered along the tops of the train of boxcars were a couple of dozen other hoboes, each one huddled down on the warm steel of the car roof, facing the rear of the train, impervious by now to the monotonous sight of lake and forest. They held themselves on with a hand gripping the catwalk.

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