I lower my head and pretend to pray. The sun is scorching the back of my neck and my pale, Irish-stock skin is pinking rapidly. Around me, the crowd has stopped all talk of cousins promoted, uncles dead, or aunts shifted to care facilities. The chatting is done for now, and we’re getting down to the business of worship. The padre, wearing a somber black suit slashed by a kelly green sash, is reciting the Lord’s Prayer over a hand-held microphone. His voice carries traces of a brogue; his hair is white and fluffy, his eyes a snappy blue.
Behind him, a 30-ton chunk of black granite sits inside a wrought-iron fence that’s worked into a shamrock pattern. Today the fence is festooned with orange, green and white fabric—the colours of the Irish flag. The rock and the padre are in the middle of four lanes of busy traffic leading onto the Victoria Bridge in Point Saint Charles, Montréal. Behind the rock, looming over the Padre’s right shoulder, I see a billboard for Fujitsu. It reads, Du pas de sexe de l’été. It is the only French I see or hear.
Read the rest of this essay, originally published in the Walrus, here: