“There below” by Sasha on her living room floor

Wednesday December 18, 2019
5 minutes
Somewhere I’ll Find You
Phebe Hanson

I hold Tova’s hand for the months of February and March. There’s still snow on the ground. She’s home from the hospice, set up in the living room of the house that used to belong to her father, Mort. I take time off work (unpaid, because she’s not a dependant, but my boss is kind). I leave my apartment early, and get to the small brick bungalow with the blue door and the white window shutters. The night nurse (there are a few that cycle through) tells me that she’s sleeping, or that she’s listening to Ram Das on tape. Brian, from Trinidad is my favourite. He exudes kindness and his smile is like a light bulb. Tova is covered in blankets, mostly ones that belonged to Mort. Who buys blankets anymore? Before she got sick she was a beautiful round pear, but now she’s a spaghetti noodle, her hand like a branch in mine.

“the high priestess of soul” by Sasha in her old bedroom at Bowmore

Friday November 16, 2018
5 minutes
Universal Soldiers
Andrea Warner

My mother is beautiful
in the thickness of grief
My mother
bless her ravaged heart
her oatmeal-making
her devotion

People don’t talk
about how it smells
(salty wet acidic)
about how it looks
(pale shrunken)
about how it feels in the bones
(heavy empty ragged)

I awaken with clenched teeth
and a prayer between them
Glory Bound
sweat on my forehead
butterfly kicks
in my womb

“Well, God is perfectly fair.” By Sasha at the BMO Theatre Centre

Tuesday January 23, 2018
5 minutes
Tamas Dobozy

I bring a book when I go to chemo with Tom. He never asked me to go with him but I do because it’s nice to spend time with him and everyone else is freaked out. Sometimes he doesn’t want to talk, in which case I read the Sports section or listen to a podcast. Lily’s got me into podcasts. I love them. Listen to them on my long drives. Tom didn’t tell us until he was really sick. He kept it from everyone except Sas. When he told me and Lily we both cried. It was the first time we’d done that together.

“If you have already completed” by Julia on the 99

Saturday May 14, 2016
5 minutes
The Canadian Census

So I walk on the bus and there’s a woman in a jean ball cap flipping through flyers and ripping out coupons. She’s sitting by the window, taking up two seats to do this and there’s nowhere for me to sit. So I say, very politely, excuse me may I sit there? And she grumbles to herself and then instead of moving her papers off the aisle seat, she moves herself over and makes me climb over her to get to the window. I’m already miffed, but then the bus jolts and I go flying into her flyers which makes her grumble even more. I make it a point not to say I’m sorry. If I don’t say anything I can’t say anything mean either, right? Then she moves herself to another seat near by, and she keeps clicking her tongue like she can’t believe “this person” and “this person” is clearly me, even though I’m just on my phone writing a grocery list for later. Then she moves herself again to a completely different seat, complaining to the woman beside her that I’m going to give her cancer for being on my phone near her!

“you can work on in your backyard” by Julia at her dining table

Wednesday March 23, 2016
5 minutes

Mom calls me from the subway and her phone keeps cutting out because she’s standing on the steps half deciding whether or not to hang up or go and catch her damn train. She calls me back every time and I can’t get any work done or any listening done because we manage to sneak in one or two conjunctions and then there’s static. She’s scared of going to the doctor because she’s convinced they’re going to tell her she’s dying. She’s afraid of cancer. She has no visible symptoms. She is just afraid so she made the appointment. She’s not saying any of this. She’s talking about aunt Rene’s cockatiel and how the Chinese garlic situation has fucked with her tomato sauce. I want to tell her to go and to listen to them tell her that she’s fine but I can’t actually promise anything of the sort. I picture her attached to the subway stairs for hours, clinging in between the knowing and the unknowing of every single thing on this planet. I picture how she feels when she decides the reason she can’t get herself to go is because her only kid is too busy not reading in between her lines to go and be there for her. I put on my shoes.

“What is “beginner’s mind”?” By Sasha at the desk at Joe Creek

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
5 minutes
From a tweet by Shambhala Sun

I read a short memoir about a woman with stage four breast cancer and my throat swells with fear. I resent her for reminding me of my mortality. I wonder about where I carry extra weight, if I eat too much cheese, is it dangerous to live in a city? Where does my unexpressed rage live? Is it in my breasts? My liver? I’m destined for the same fate. Sickness lies dormant inside of me and will strike when I least expect. The summer of my wedding. When I am pregnant with my first child. During the premiere of my most successful play.

A hummingbird feasts from a hydrangea, slurping up her fill until she’s drunk, flying into the morning before I can reach for my camera. I drink coffee, now cool, the bitterness sour long after the swallow.

I weave a whole narrative before I’ve finished my fried egg on toast. I hate her, this beautiful bald writer, I love her, I wish she were closer and that I might know her phone number so that I can call and thank her for this late July, early morning meditation on death.

“read in the privacy of one’s study.” By Sasha on her porch

Monday, July 6, 2015
5 minutes
“What is creative nonfiction?”
By Wayne Grady

Pauline watches me in my study.
I think I’m alone and then I realize that, nope, she’s right damn there.
Not sure what to do with her ashes.
Dead in January, the ground’s frozen. Not a good time to do something like burying.

“I never made it to the Eiffel Tower,” she said, the morphine changing her eyes from blue to grey.
“I know, I know,” I said, rubbing an ice cube on her chapped lips.

It’s the longest trip I’ve ever taken.
Only been to Montreal and Salt Lake City.
I pack three apples and a jar of almond butter for the plane, just in case the food is as bad as everyone makes it sound.
It isn’t.
I only leave the mashed potatoes.

“It is impossible to live without failing” by Sasha at Higher Grounds

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at Higher Grounds
5 minutes
A quote by J.K. Rowling

The last time I saw you I didn’t recognize you, which is funny because I came from your body so one would think that that’s the find of recognition that just sort of, happens.

In class, my writing teacher is preoccupied by “Obsessions”. He makes us list them and recite them and feel them on our tongues. I hate it. I find myself writing the same obsessions every class and feel as though I’m boring everyone. I’m boring myself.


“Destroy the evidence” by Sasha at Black River Farm

Saturday, July 26, 2014
5 minutes
Cards Against Humanity

“You’re dying, Judy…” I say, for the seventieth time. She smiles. “I’m not.” She spits a cherry pit into her hand and chucks in out the window. “Are you hearing the doctor?” I say, trying not to be annoyed at her, trying to find the patience I practice with the kids. “I heard him alright,” she eats another cherry. “You’ve got three months, tops…” It sounds so harsh to repeat it, it sounds so cold. I don’t mean it to be. I want her to do what she needs to do before she’s too weak. “It’s in your liver…” “What is? The wine we drank last night?” There’s a glimmer in her eye. Is this full on denial? I go to her desk to find the pamphlet the doctor gave us. I look in the drawers. I sift through phone bills and… she’s destroyed the evidence.

“a few pieces of furniture” by Julia at Cafe D’amour

Thursday, July 3, 2014
2:22pm at Cafe D’Amour
5 minutes
Design UK
Max Fraser

You know it was hard for her, cause she had to fast, but my sister was saying that the colonoscopy results showed nothing. Yes. She’s really starting to slide. We’re not sure what this is, if it’s part of her cancer condition-you know, we keep having to watch her fall a part and it’s kind of emotional for us. Okay. Well I would appreciate it if you could pass it on. Like I said, I think it’d be nice to get her a wheelchair just so she can feel like she’s–yes. Oh excellent. Thank you so much. But if you can pass on to Doctor Lowen about her physical condition. We’re just worried about–yes I know it’s not actually officially cancer. But something’s in her lung, something’s in her brain. We need to have some answers here. No, no, Yana, I appreciate you getting back to me. Thank you so much. They eliminated the lumps in her uterus, they say they’re benign, but you know, we have all those other tests to get scheduled. And you know what I’ve been hearing is that all the guys who run those tests are just out on vacation right now. Well thank you, I’m glad that you–oh sure, we will. We’ll be in touch. Thanks again for getting back to me Yana. Thank you for understanding, it’s been a bit rough for us. Okay well I’ll tell my mother you send your best, of course. Bye now, Yana.

Sorry about that. I just needed to get that call. I don’t normally answer. Anyway, what’s your timeline today?

“I loved my father” by Sasha on her couch

Friday March 7, 2014
5 minutes
Black Elk Speaks
John G. Neihardt

I loved my father like a raincloud – occasionally, usually when I needed a good rinse of my own self-worth. He was twenty-three when I was born, he was awkward and self deprecating and wonderful only in his embracing of his strangeness. He was also a writer. I refer to him in the past tense because he’s dead. People that refer to dead people in the present tense skeeve me out. Don’t do that. “The only sure thing is death,” my father used to say. He’d even practise his, lying in corpse pose for fifteen minutes each evening on the rug in the hall. It was the only yoga he did. He played basketball with a bunch of punk-ass teenagers at the Community Centre every Sunday. “Keeps me grounded,” he said, but that was debatable. I won’t easily forget when I got the phone call from my Aunt Veronica that he hadn’t made it through his brain surgery. They’d found a tumour the size of a clementine on his left cortex. That’s what the doctor said, “the size of a clementine.” Why he didn’t say “golf ball” like every other medical professional turned me on. I smiled. “Miss Stevenson, I’m concerned you aren’t grasping the gravity of the situation,” the doctor said.

“nearly killed him.” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday November 14, 2013 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
creative writing MFA handbook
Tom Kealey

Sitting at my brother, Ian’s, bedside, I listen to his breath. It wasn’t his breath anymore, really, it was through the machine that makes an eerie, almost-human inhale and exhale. His husband, Michael, is getting gelato with their four-year-old daughter, Margaret. “What flavour do you think she’s having?” Ian asks, eyes half open. “You’re awake!” I say. The morning nurse, Shanique, comes in. She’s Ian’s favourite. He watches her huge gold hoop earrings move back and forth, back and forth. “Where’s Margaret?” She asks. Ian motions for me to explain. “They’re getting ice cream.” I massage Ian’s feet. They’ve been achey since Sunday. “Lucky!” Shanique says, checking the pump, the IV, taking Ian’s temperature. “They better bring us back some!” She winks at me and I smile. She leaves in a bustle of light pink scrubs with small bouquets of flowers on them, singing a gospel song that Ian sometimes hums when Michael bathes him. “Would you trade places with me? If things worked like that?” Ian asks, his blue eyes piercing right into the place where love lives, where devotion sprouts wings.

“Is the crisper only for lettuce?” By Sasha at the CSI Coffee Pub

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at the CSI Coffee Pub
5 minutes
Susan’s warm-up in the these five minutes: resident writing group

Kath splurged and went to Whole Foods. She bought artichokes to roast and a big slab of parmesan cheese. She bought organic face cream and a bar of dark chocolate with cranberries for Jerry. When she got home, he was napping. He’d fallen asleep with his glasses on, and she carefully plucked them off of his nose and put them on the bedside table. She was glad. She was glad that he was napping. She put the groceries away, wiping the fridge shelves beforehand, just how she liked. She preheated the oven for the artichokes. “Hey, honey,” said Jerry, stretching wide. This round of radiation had made him look like a different man. “Who did I marry?” she thought. She couldn’t get used to his baldness.

“become a woman of much consequence.” by Sasha at Cafe Novo

Sunday, January 20, 2013
5 minutes
Arnold Bennett

“I don’t care about becoming a woman of consequence, or the stamp that I’m leaving on the world, but I do care about being the one with the best coffin!” she says and she laughs, because she can, but we don’t. My sister ran a hand over her leg and went on, “Don’t look so shocked, Soph, geeeeeze…” She closes one of the many pamphlets open on the table in front of us. She wants a Green Funeral. She doesn’t want to be embalmed. She doesn’t believe in wills because she thinks that people’s true colours come out when the people they love die and that it’s an opportunity to work together. Zaza, we call her, Zaza divorced her husband Phil last night because she refused to make him a “widower”. They’ll live together until she moves into the hospice. They haven’t stopped loving. Phil smiled as he signed the papers, or at least that’s what Zaza said. “He’s totally into it!” She’s been gorging on expensive chocolate and cases of Barolo. Since she got her appetite back she says she only wants the finest. A vegetarian since she was twelve, Zaza proclaimed at Christmas that from now on she’d be eating as much meat as she possible could to, “make up for lost time.”