“Those were the rules.” By Sasha at Black River Farm

Saturday January 4, 2020
5 minutes
The Murderee
Martin Amis

Our breath freezes before it hits the air.
Icicles circling the morning mist rising
off the corn field,
touching the rays of sun, reaching
finger and toe beams
towards the frozen ground.

Breath holds the promise of the space between,
where we mix and merge, where the us lives.

We are writing a new book.

It holds others than us, lives that we
weave in with our pages, a purple thread
and a red one. We spill and splay,

the breath of these colours,
unsure of the chapter organization,
the editorial style, the font.

A flock of geese flies high in a V above us,
leaders and followers trading off with
effortless grace. I stop walking.

I look back.
Our footprints in the snow, leading us here,
the generosity of the clouds parting. I turn
my face towards the sun,
let her fill me up, let her breath
sketch the outline of my body.

“We did all these things and more,” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday, Oct 11, 2019
5 minutes
We Did
Brian Doyle
There were the seasons of planting the seeds
of good fortune and picking out the rocks from the
supple generous earth
sticky resilience
honey under fingernails
dirt on cheeks
There were phases of freezing toes
and shouting under a starless sky
Crescent moon asking for more more
more more more when she finally came
when she finally helped
New like the baby’s first glance
like the promise of spring
deep freeze full of bones and secrets
thought there was nothing left to say
but there always is
wisdom a crystal buried in the basement
growing every day
There were years of abundance
years of bushels of apples
sweet potato pies
rye bread in the oven
trading this for that
no need to pass bills between
trusted treasures
There were summers of black flies
zucchini’s the size of toddlers
lake swims and fires
snaking smoke to the
Seven Sisters
birch bark friendship bracelets
girls laughing

“in contact with eyes” by Sasha on her couch

Wednesday October 17, 2018
5 minutes
From the soap dispenser

It smells like burning

and Damon is running around
like a demon or a chicken or something
I’m on the back porch hanging
the laundry on the line
The black flies are out
I’m trying to do it quickly

“Damon! Come help!” I call
but he’s off in the plum trees
or bringing the pigs the scraps
from lunch or chasing bunnies
behind the shrubs

It smells like burning but
I don’t see smoke on the horizon
so maybe I’ll ask Jim about it
when he gets home

We haven’t had sex in over a month
me and Jim because he’s still
recovering from that fall off the ladder
I’m going strange and wild
and he’s going quiet and moody

Damon comes running towards me
and I throw a pillowcase on him
and suddenly he’s a ghost

“Kensington Prairie Farm” by Julia at the desk

Friday July 27, 2018
5 minutes

Don’t talk to me about alpacas.
I’m not interested in giving those assholes any more attention than they deserve.
You come at me and running your mouth about alpacas?
I swear to the holy ghost that knows you that those will be your goddamn last words.
I don’t have anything weird about alpacas. I don’t have anything weird about alpacas.
I think their wool feels gross.
I think their faces are stupid.
I don’t have anything weird about alpacas.
Okay so my first boyfriend used to be obsessed with them.
He’d talk about them.
He’d ask me to go to the fucking farm to see them with him.
Now that is having something weird about alpacas.
Get a dog, you know what I mean?
Like go smile at a goat or whatever.
Why was he obsessed with them?
Don’t ask me why!
If I knew why, I probably wouldn’t have anything weird about alpacas.

“I found an opossum” by Sasha at Jamjar

Monday April 23, 2018
2:39pm at Jamjar
5 minutes
Dirty Work
Nancy Matson

I found an opossum in the garden and I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one but they are strange looking little things. Marsupials, I think.

Fran used to have a book on all the wild critters that might be on the land and sometimes, and I remember once, when she was reading this book in her orange chair, she called to me in my study,

“George! The female opossum’s reproductive system includes a bifurcated vagina, and a divided uterus! Can you believe it!?!”

I laughed then, and I do again now, thinking of her wonder and curiosity about all of God’s strange creatures.

“A woman came out of the farmhouse.” By Sasha on the 84

Monday, March 12, 2018
5 minutes
Exactly What To Say
Kim Church

A woman came out of the farmhouse
and at first I didn’t know who she was
at first I didn’t recognize those
lightning eyes and that sea foam hair

Then I realized it was you
and I fell to my knees
I muddied my knees
I shook my hands at the clouds
the whites of God’s eyes
I shook my hands and I cried out
your name

On that land where babies are born
and ancestors died on that land
there you were all wrinkles and time
and grief and amazement

It’s spring so that’s fitting
the garden overwhelming
the garden full of
crocuses and ranuculus
and anemone
and hellebore and rose

“If you want to go out with her or give her a bath” by Julia in the office chair

Thursday March 8, 2018
5 minutess
From a text

Lottie ain’t gonna fightcha, if ya’ll wanna take her out or give her a nice scrubbin’, be my guest, understand? She used to put up a stink, but I think the old gal has gotten tired and to be honest I think she likes the company different these days. When we first got her, boy could she kick a hole in all your hard work! The fences that Horace put up? Took him the whole damn summer. When he left for two minutes to fetch himself a congratulatory beer Lottie had already marked her exit route. You shoulda seen his face, my god. If he didn’t already feel bad for the poor thing, he mightta sold her that very day. Thing is, Lottie came from a bad group. The owners liked to use their animals for experiments in show business-Kind of impossible circus types.

“handed down mother to daughter” by Sasha on the 33

Friday February 2, 2018
5 minutes
Without Mercy
Howard Wright

We weren’t ever really sure where she came from. Just arrived one day, with diamond eyes and the reddest hair you’ve ever seen. She didn’t knock on the door, just stood outside it til Allen went out to milk the cows. She barely said a word. Got by on shaking her head and little grunts, like a goat. Mama put up posters in town, at Pharmacy and the General Store, almost as if she were a stray. No one claimed her though, so we kept her around. She never smiled. She baked the most delicious biscuits. We called her Red, and I think she liked that. Never told us her real name.

“blackberry bushes” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday July 20, 2017
5 minutes
From an email

My sister and I pick blackberries on the land she just bought. I don’t know how many acres because I’m not good with that kind of thing. There’s forest, and river, and fields. It’s a farm, but I always think of animals when I think of a farm and there’s only a cat here. It’s so beautiful it makes my stomach ache. I instantly feel at home, walking the land and making fritattas in the oven. We pick jewel after jewel. One in our mouthes and one in an old goat yogurt container that we’ll bring back to the house for the others.

“soothingly soft” by Sasha in the bath

Saturday February 4, 2017
5 minutes
From the facial tissue package

driving to the silver’s farm
peach juice on my shorts from
wiping sticky fingers
and the pit in my pocket
cozy with a white shell
and a black stone

my mother
takes the winding road
slow because i get car
sick like she does
and our ginger cat too

pile out of the minivan
named athena and run
over the hot gravel
run run bare feet
tip toes

picking corn with
a careful eye watch
out for worms or
shrunken kernels

“remove all valuables from your car” by Sasha at the table in Swansea

Friday August 5, 2016
5 minutes
From a parking sign in Decatur

Ma smokes cigarettes the day before she gets her period and no one questions it anymore because Hunk doesn’t and if Hunk doesn’t we shouldn’t. She smokes anywhere between six and thirty nine, but she’ll never smoke forty. At least that’s what Hunk says, out by the dump, when we’re huffing and picking at scabs. Ma says that the town’s changing now that the Mill’s closed and McMahon’s is opening up another dog food factory. “Different kinda person, who grinds animal faces for a living,” Ma says, stirring the pot of chilli and adding some Kraft singles to the cornbread. It’s my night for dishes, but I sneak out to the garden and pick tomatoes and hope no one knows their Mondays from their Tuesdays.

“I don’t have anything else…” by Sasha at the kitchen counter

Thursday July 14, 2016
5 minutes
overheard at The Tenant

I don’t have anything but these boots and this hat, honey, so if you’re looking for a sugar daddy it’s not me. Hate to disappoint you, I can smell disappointment from a mile away. My Ma was always disappointed, not just by me, by life, by her folks, by my Dad. You learn to develop the ability to know when a person is really swimmin’ in it. I knew to stay away. I’d busy myself with something or other, you know, in the barn or cleaning up. When Ma was down in the dumps the house got like the pig sty. Only worse. Pigs are actually pretty clean beasts. Not like us.

“I do and I don’t” by Sasha on her couch

Sunday May 8, 2016
5 minutes
Overheard by Julia on the 2 bus

Newly fourteen, I’m living on a biodynamic farm in Durham, Ontario for three weeks. I’m there with two other girls from my Grade Nine class. We sleep in the basement of the farmhouse, in beds built for children. Heather’s feet hang over the footboard. She’s a head taller than me and Karla.

I have dirt under my fingernails, and my hair has been died by the hours in the sun. I have strange tan lines and know a handful of new songs. The two young women from Alaska who are working on the farm for the season teach them to us as we pick rocks from a field where plum trees will be planted.

“I do not lie to you.” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday April 12, 2016
5 minutes
from a text

I was never asking for a storm, but it came with all the accompanying thunder and hail and wind storms and branches across the porch. I might’ve lied to you when I said that the chickens were safe and that the roof would’ve leak. Sometimes I am not the one in control. I ventured out into it, knee-high in mud and shit, stepping over bits of fence and roof, shielding my head and my eyes. I tried to save Alice, your favourite calf, but she disappeared. Lifted by a gust like a giant’s sneeze, who knows where she is now.

“late summer night in 1990” by Sasha at Platform 7

Tuesday March 1, 2016
5 minutes

The crickets were calling my name. I slept in the bottom bunk bed on the main floor sleeping porch, Jo tossing and turning above me, restless in the heat. We’d only been on the farm for five weeks. We rose before the sun and by the time it was cool again we were either in a bath or in bed. The days were longer and harder than we’d ever imagined. Even through Jo’s father was raised on a farm, we were from the city, we knew nothing about pigs and compost and birthing calves. The crickets were calling my name and I knew that if I ignored them I wouldn’t get the rest I needed tonight in order to be up and at ’em in six hours.

“bowled over” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday, April 19, 2015
5 minutes
The Cultch season announcement

Mimi gags. She wasn’t expecting the house to smell like skunks. “Dan?!” She calls, plugging her nose. She doesn’t hear anything but she knows he’s home because his work boots are outside the door, on the porch. It’s the only pair of shoes he owns. He wears them all year round, even in the heat of July, when no one should have anything that heavy on their feet. She hears the water running, he must be in the shower. She calls again, “Dan!” as she opens the fridge door. A bottle of no name hot sauce, three loose eggs and a hot dog, cooked, no bun. She’s afraid to open the cupboards.

“simultaneously ancient” by Sasha on her couch

Wednesday January 22, 2014
5 minutes
KINFOLK, Volume 10

My Poppa was a repo man and he’d come in tired as a horizon at dusk. My Momma would ring her hands as she looked out the kitchen window like she was hoping for something to drip down from them – cherry cordial or lime juice or blood or sunshine. There was an easy feeling before the winter but in it, there was a weight to feet on the floorboards, creaking into the darkness. I never laughed so loud as the time my brother Aaron told me that there was nothing that was gonna stop him from leaving the farm. I never cried as much as when Baby Charlotte decided to die. We’d seen birth and death since we were little, a kitten swept into the compost pile or a cow giving herself to our bellies, bullet in the head. Charlotte was different though. We’d been so excited for a baby girl, after the twins, after enough blue blankets. I’d rubbed Momma’s belly with oil and whispered to her in there. She had the whitest skin of any of us. “I can see her wormy veins,” said Jeffrey, peeking into her cradle. “Shhhh,” I said. When Charlotte decided to die, it was like a snow had come, cloaking the house in whispers and shadow and porridge.

“photo or canvas prints” by Sasha on her couch

Thursday, September 12, 2013
5 minutes
from a photography brochure

Marigold was born under the Aquarius sky, the winter moon heavy on the horizon, ice tendrils curling around frozen eaves. Her mother let out a bellow like a farmhouse, full, at the holidays. Her dark head breached. She was born.

Marigold made mud pies out of the earth that grew her carrots and her beets, out of the ground that housed the worms she cared for, with the devotion of a nun.

When she was nine, Marigold decided to tend the apple orchard, forgotten by her mother and father, past the fields and the garden. She spent every morning and every evening there, pruning and planting, singing songs she knew from her aunties from Lebanon.

By seventeen, the orchard was thriving. She pressed cider and cut Gala’s into perfect pieces, feeding them to her younger brothers, making pies and crisps to sell at the market on Saturdays.

“Harmony Organic Dairy” by Sasha at Cafe Novo

Monday, August 26, 2013 at Cafe Novo
5 minutes
from the milk jar holding the purple flower

When you’re brother tells you, over coffee on the front porch, that he’s enlisted and starts Basic Training next month, you choke back a sob. You choke it back and you transform it into a “Congratulations”, just like your Granny taught you, just like you’ve been practising since you first said “Yes” instead of “No”. Your brother is seventeen months younger than you, which means there was only an eight month gap between your home, her womb, and his home, her womb. Which means, there’s the ghostly feeling of twin-hood between you and he. Him and you. There’s a fleeting desire to ask him why, to ask for a reason, to stand up and dump the potted daisies onto his lap and bury him here, on the porch, so that he might not ever go. You remember finding the glossy pamphlet in his room and laughing out loud, bringing it to her, your mother, and her laughing too. “Yeah right!” She’d said. Yeah. Right. It’s been quiet for awhile. He stares at you. “Tell me how you really feel, Emma.” He says, but he doesn’t mean it. He goes inside, the screen door slamming behind him.

“That was my first personal encounter” by Sasha on the couch at Knowlton Lake

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at Knowlton Lake
5 minutes
Some Freaks
David Mamet

When the roosters wake you up you won’t be irritated. You’ll be grateful. You didn’t set the alarm clock that you found at Honest Ed’s, painted with a pink cat. You’ll be confused because you live in the city, in the heart of it, and you never expected a rooster. It will reminds you of your grandfather’s farm, sold to a contracting company who would raise a whole subdivision in four or five years. It reminds you of the smell of the manure, and the bales of hay and the apple orchard. You decide you won’t get out of bed today. You call in sick, to a manager who you don’t respect, not on principle, in a “stick it to the man” sort of way, in the way that you might choose to hate any manager because really you are completely capable of managing yourself. You don’t respect him because he’s choosing to be with Emily, from Finance, who just turned twenty. He left his wife for her. He’s forty two, with a preteen daughter and autistic twin boys who couldn’t be more than eight. He smells like a mowed lawn. You used to like that smell. Not anymore. You call this manager and you tell him that you’re not feeling well. “A mental health day, perhaps?” He scoffs. It’s a migraine, you whisper, for effect. You hang up the phone and listen to the rooster. You pull the covers over your head.