Wednesday August 8, 2018
I sleep in your bed when you’re away and I toss and turn and have nightmares about people breaking into your apartment because I’ve done something wrong in a past life to ruin the trust you have in me. On a different night I dream of having to find an outfit for prom. 13 years later and I wonder what I have accomplished since then. Still trying to fit in. Still worrying if I will be perceived by them as I perceive myself. On the night with the nightmares I am landlocked to the bed. I can’t rise. I can’t wake up. Sleep paralysis plays a slideshow of disturbing footage and I’m not allowed to leave. I’m not allowed to leave. Your bed used to be softer. I think you gave that one to our parents. I think your heart full of tenderness gives everything to everyone. I’m sorry my body heavy with jet leg and self-doubt can’t ease into the gift. You’d be sorry if you knew it was hard, and it shouldn’t be hard. It should be soft. You’re sleeping on the cold ground right now and I pray that your bones aren’t wet all the way through. I hope you’re sitting on the garbage bag instead of a damp log. I hope you find peace in the stillness of the wilderness. You impress me. Someone who knows when to say yes.
Wednesday July 11, 2018
One day conceivable from here, from now, from everything that I know,
I will hold a tiny, living thing in my arms and I will feel this great love…
The one everyone talks about
the changing kind, the one that gently nudges, inspires, forces you into bearing witness
Each moment between now and then is a teacher
I will want this when I have gotten good at turning the love inward
At being a witness to myself
And there is much to see. This life has been long already, the one before this one longer still, I imagine, and it is going going
I would very much like to give a tiny, living thing, my heart beat in excess
I want to give everything away when I know I don’t need to hold onto anything I’ve gotten but a tiny, living thing
Everything of use to me is being shown to me from the inside out and the whole world knows it
At least it does if I give permission to the whole world to be within me
Last night I felt a connection with a tiny, living thing
that did not burst forth from my own joy,
but was able to recognize it
We rocked there, our heads touching
and that was enough for me to know
Wednesday March 21, 2018
A quote by Madeleine L’Engle
It is a gift given often without being returned
a tiny bird’s egg rescued from concrete
the padded footsteps around the house
while he sleeps through the day again
Expectations far away from here
But then it is still true
When the silence is so loud it weeps
the hurt so present it raises the skin
you might think this love bone might never mend
this aching might never go away
He sleeps, through the day again,
her mother forgets to ask about her doctor’s appointment
the padded footsteps, soft from walking with empty
And the next day, a window cracks
the light streaming in just a little
Monday January 15, 2018
Would you give me grace if I asked
nicely and gave you spice mixtures,
ran you a hot bath, took out
What if I promised to love you through
What if I called you every day
and told you something funny,
or irreverent, or sad?
The greatest gift I’ll ever receive
For days and days
I thought that it was you
who would give me this.
I thought that it was me
who would leave voicemails,
roast sweet potatoes, make
angel cards and golden milk.
And then today
as I walked in the coldest cold
it struck me –
the giver and the receiver
are one and the same.
like honey and cinnamon,
like the end of a fire,
like dew underfoot.
Here it is.
Tuesday December 26, 2017
From an email
In recent years I believed a gift had to have many moving parts:
First, a card, a language of otherwise indescribable gratitude. A love, living. A promise, dancing in the living room.
Second, a thought profound and seeing. A proof, light, opening the airways.
Third, a joke, folded into the side bed of the card and woven through the thought. A humble choice to make such vulnerable words a party of intention.
Fourth, a practical container, one that said The Inside Counts Best Here. I Have Used My Time Solely For The Contents. I Have Neglected The Wrapper On Purpose.
Thursday November 9, 2017
Across the bed she laid herself bare
Gloves to invite play
Boots to indicate business
Okay to invite play
Her hair curled into a jungle cat
That’s what he asked for
He called her his lion
She wanted to make his birthday a special one
Remember when she had those
Sexy photographs taken when she
was twenty-five and newly off the hormones
She kept it a surprise for him
and then one day decorated the entire house with her in lacy underwear, his plaid shirt, her
Sam Edelman knee highs
She thought it was for him
Years later she knows that it
was always for her
Friday February 3, 2017
from the Windows display
I don’t think I ever cared about the fish we had when we were growing up. I think I wanted to, and I meant to, but it never hit. My sister seemed to care about them. She gave them names, she put tiny pellets into their water, she sometimes made up songs about them. But then she also kept killing them and had to flush them down the toilet and then get three more replacement fish. And then she did it again. I can see how one would think they’d be an unfit mother if they never figured out just how hard it is for goldfish to actually live in the first place. I realize now that I also couldn’t care about them because when my sister got them for her birthday that year, I also got a pair of white Barbie running shoes with sparkly pink laces. I was very busy.
Tuesday January 17, 2017
from an email
I don’t think I’d be able to leave it anywhere else. Not under the bed or in the closet. Not on the shelf or in the key house. I’d have to bring it with me because there is no place it belongs better than the place I’ve built. I carry it; the last thing you gave me. The world could shake me down till I were naked branch and still not be able to pry the light of you from me. I have stitched it on tight. I wear it when I cannot hold it. I wrap it when I need it bigger. I couldn’t leave that behind. Things already happen just so already…things already break too easy.
Saturday November 26, 2016
overheard at BC Children’s Hospital
I imagine her carrying her black bag, (bottomless, gold hardware, disgusting) to the gym and then the bank. She fishes around: hand plunged into crusty zipper pockets and crumbled Nature Valley Granola Bar lining. She doesn’t know what she’s looking for and what she’s hoping to find but she knows the answer is deep down somewhere between the Revlon Matte Lip Stain and the broken bronzer pallet staining her receipts pumpkin. I don’t think she’d ask a man to carry it for her when she gets tired of it, but maybe when she has to bend to tie her shoes. She knows in one of the pouches there is a yellow hanker chief that her grandmother gave her and laughed at when she told her she would wear it in her back pocket (peeking out just a bit) as a fashion statement. I imagine she tells her this joke during one of her grandmother’s coughing fits, but not that she will miss her when she’s gone.
Tuesday October 18, 2016
From the back of The Sun
He never asked me what I wanted to do or what I loved or what I was thinking.
He didn’t need to know, I assumed. He didn’t think it was necessary. I don’t
know how you go your whole life as a parent not thinking it is necessary. I don’t
Know how you go your whole life talking to so many people each day and saying so
The best gift he ever gave me was a necklace: black gem stone, elegant.
He brought it home for me the day after my sister gave the other half of her best
friends forever necklace to someone other than me. He said he wanted me to have one
of my very own. One that I wouldn’t need somebody else to complete.
Wednesday April 20, 2016
Arden: Elliot, where did you get that ring?
Elliot: Why, you like??
Arden: Yeah, I like it a lot. It looks expensive.
Elliot: What does that mean?
Arden: Means it doesn’t look like something you’d buy.
Elliot: What the fuck?
Arden: I don’t mean it like an insult, I’m just saying.
Elliot: Well why don’t you stop speaking in fucking puzzles? What are you getting at?
Arden: Woah, pump the breaks, I’m just saying I like your ring and I didn’t expect you to have something like that. Because you don’t have a job. And I don’t think you’re dating someone? I don’t know, Elliot, fuck, just forget it.
Elliot: You’re jealous.
Elliot: You are. I fucking knew it. You can’t accept that I might have one thing that you don’t have.
Arden: That’s not true.
Elliot: No? Then I guess you won’t care if I tell you that Nanna gave me this ring.
Elliot: Yeah. She wanted me to have it. She gave it to me before she died.
Arden: Why the fuck did she give it you?
Monday February 23, 2015
When I look at her, I see all the birthday cards and the Valentine’s books, stuck with stickers and written in blue ball point pen. When I see her move, slow, deliberate, I am overcome with sadness. “This isn’t how it was meant to be!” I say, quiet, under my breath. Who am I to know?
Pain has been described as a gift. Seventeen years of ache, of muscle tightening and bone rubbing. Seventeen years of patience and faith. Seventeen years of the break, the tears, the stomping feet on the ground, if only the strength was there.
Here it is. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Wings spread, she flies.
Tuesday August 12, 2014
a quote from Robin Williams
He said it matter-of-factly as he gripped his miniature hand over my closed fist. This was a gift from a tiny god and I was being entrusted with it. He made sure I was looking him in the eyes when I promised him I would keep it safe. And never give it to any one else? Of course not. And never drop it on the ground that doesn’t have carpet? Never ever. And never forget where you last put it? Not on my life. And with that he scampered off getting distracted by the grass that he in that moment just had to bend down to dig up. I watched him playing in the earth with my fist still tightly closed. The magic of this gift was fuelling me from my hands and seeping into my bones trough my troubled skin. He didn’t even say what it was. I suppose he didn’t have to. I had believed in the importance of it by virtue of his stern instructions. He didn’t make me promise not to open it until he was gone. I didn’t have to open it to know that it was ours.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
from a photography brochure
I think because I bought them for him for his birthday, Al thought he needed to use all the canvases up in one week just to show me that he was appreciative of the gift. Truth is, I didn’t know what else to get him. Everyone else, it seemed, was giving in to all his childhood desires and making sure he was spoiled rotten. Video games, and movies, a couple baseball hats. I didn’t even buy one thing for the kid, just showed up to Amy’s house on Saturday afternoon, early enough that there were still pork sliders left, and watched what he was getting. Then I slipped out of the party kind of sneakily I suppose, and I went back home to my garage. I was thinking about giving him some of my old ones, but when I saw how discoloured they were, I thought, no, I can’t give those to my nephew for his birthday, it wouldn’t be right. So I took myself to the art supply shop and bought him some brand spanking new canvases, two brushes, and a variety paint set. Hell, I didn’t even know if the kid was artistic or not, but I sure as hell didn’t want to be like everyone else keeping him inside and cooped up just so he wouldn’t bother any body. Turns out he likes to paint.
Friday, April 19, 2013
A quote by Martin Luther King Jr.
You looked at me with sad eyes and told me, I’m over this. I said, Babe, babe, and you said, No, no. I was holding on to something that looked like you, sounded like you, smelled like you. It wasn’t you, though. You had already left, long ago, bags pre-packed and sitting in the hallway. You were a just in case kind of lover. You hoped for the best and prepared for the worst, just in case I disappointed you. I did, I guess, which is why you had sad eyes and tried so hard to tell me with as few words as possible. You said, I wish I wasn’t sorry about this. I said, Babe, babe.
You said, It’s not easy for me either. I said, Babe, babe.
You tragically pushed the watch I bought you into my lap and said, I can’t. I looked at you holding a watch that, in my mind, was yours even if I bought it, because how the hell is that ever going to fit me? To fit anyone ever again? I said, Please. You said, No, no. Every time I drop the ball, you decide to drop something too. One of those hurt bombs that explode in my face and get me thinking about society and how this whole world is going to shit. And I can think outside myself because I’m good that way. I don’t need any help. All I need is for you to stay here, talk it out.
I waited till you stood up and I said, Babe, babe. You looked at me again with sadder eyes than before and you said, No, No.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Everything Bad Is Good For You
You took your time going down the steep side, towards the lake, with the trout and the laughter. I walked behind you, in case you fell backwards, which, in hindsight, isn’t the smartest, but… Oh well. I don’t have a word for that day, or the day before, when we finally got down to it and started working. It was Boxing Day when you’d said, “Let’s put together your family tree for real…” I thought you were kidding, I thought, “Why would you want to put together my family tree? Why would that even interest you?!” But I said, “Sure,” and didn’t think much of it. We drove up to my aunt’s cabin on Georgian Bay and brought all the books, the folders, the cassette tapes of my grandfather talking about the “Old Country”. We were smoking a joint on the dock. “Have you even put together a family tree before? Is this your first time?” You smiled and ashed into the lake.