Sunday February 26, 2017
Dear Sugar Radio
I don’t have any memories of my mother’s father. He died when I was three, lived in Italy, and I only met him a couple times. The first time, they tell me, was when I was 3 months old. I had my ears peirced with gold studs (by my aunt Patricia, who was also travelling to Italy with us), I carried around a rainbow striped bunny that I would later name “Skittles”, and according to my mother, I was a very picky eater during the first couple months of my life. They tell me that he was a big man, feared by many. They tell me all the other grandkids ran away from him because they were intimidated by his size, or his mood, or his silence. They tell me that when he walked by my crib I begged for him to pick me up. They tell me that it was strange for a small thing to reach out to him. They tell me that he lived for taking me out into the fields to pick fresh figs. They tell me he smiled a lot when we were there.
Sixteen years later I went to Italy for the second time. I found his gravestone. I listened to the air between my life and his. I still can’t say I ever knew him. But I missed him then.
Monday January 2, 2017
Overheard at Cowichan Bay
Grandfather hands me a book bound with lightning
and maybe it’s because I’ve just turned old enough
to travel by train alone Or maybe it’s because I’ve
only now realized the importance of the remarkable moment.
The book shakes in my hands and I open it only when
I’m alone in my bedroom amongst baboons and posters
of the Jackson Five.
The first page shows how the earth was born and then
how the dinosaurs really became extinct and on the
third page I rest because every Wednesday should
include a nap.
Monday January 2, 2017
overheard at Cowichan Bay
Your grandfather has your chin
And you have his
Your mother says he has your eyes
Or you have his
And I can see it if I look a long while
to see it
So I can taste how far back you go
How far back you come from
Before you disappear again
Your grandfather has your mouth
And you have his
The same smile for the baby in the picture then
also perfectly yours
Even if only in photographs
Finding your future there in his past
Thursday February 4, 2016
It was like yesterday, I remember it like yesterday.
Sunny was in the yard playing with her mason jar filled with tiny snails. She was calling them funny names like Gabrielle and Inmim. I watched her babysit them like they were her dolls. She liked to explain things to them in Spanish, in case they ever needed to be able to do the same. But then there is a flash in this memory, like two films stitched together to edit the problem in between. There was a problem in between. There’s a second vision as strong and detailed as the first before the flash. Thea and Perry are crying in my living room and everyone is screaming Sunny’s name. Thea is wearing the locket she gave to her and shaking her head back and forth so furiously it looks like it might spin off. Perry is holding her hand and clenching his jaw. He is smiling but he doesn’t seem to be able to stop.
Saturday May 3, 2014 at Small Point Cafe in Providence
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Tori found her gold locket, the one she thought she’d lost forever, in the basement of her best friend Jane’s house. She yelled at Jane for a whole two minutes because she couldn’t believe that someone who called themselves her friend would ever think about doing that to her. Tori’s grandfather gave her that locket and inside was a photo of her when she was just a little thing with two hairs on her head, holding both her hands on either side of her grandpa’s face. It meant a lot to her and when she’d lost it, she was in a real state. To her it was like losing him all over again and through teary eyes and sobs she’s say, I can’t go to another funeral. I can’t. Jane tried to explain that she didn’t take it and that Tori must have accidentally left it there–or, she tried, Maybe you weren’t paying attention and forgot to fasten it properly…
That set Tori off into another dimension and she said, I would NEVER be careless with this. And with that she stormed out of Jane’s house and vowed to never speak to her again. Jane was telling the truth. She didn’t care much for Tori’s locket in the first place.
Friday April 11, 2014
A quote by Kurt Vonnegut
You’re comforted by the past – “I was the captain of the Basketball team!” You say. “I was Prom King,” you smile, “and I got early acceptance to all six universities I applied to…” You relish in those “good ol’ days”. “I beat the record time for the hundred metre dash,” you tell me. “I used to be able to slam dunk, did you know that?” I did, but I shake my head.
You were born in an age where these things mattered. You were born in a place where when you were there, everyone felt good, felt glad, felt warm, felt lucky. It’s no surprise that I’m the only one that you haven’t alienated, my mother (your daughter) can hardly stand to think about me coming over every Sunday and taking you grocery shopping. “Grandpa, tell me the story of how you met Grams?” I ask, trying to get you out of your narcissistic spiral. “Oh, that’s a good story. That’s a very good story…” You smile and sigh. You rub the bridge of your nose. “I met Rosemary in the doctors office at the University of Toronto. She had the brightest red hair I’d ever seen. Her cheeks were flushed. I sat beside her, frozen peas on my sprained ankle, and I asked her what was wrong. She was taken aback! She was a shy girl from the country, you know. And I was there on full scholarship, starting point guard, top of my class?”
Wednesday February 5, 2014 at the CSI Coffee Pub
Learning To Love You More
Harrell Fletcher & Miranda July
Don’t stop the music comin’, baby. Gimme that Louis Armstrong, the one with the blue sleeve. Bring me the cantaloupe, would ya? CeeCee cut one up and it’s in the fridge.
God. I love this song, baby, come and hold my hand and let’s just listen and forget about all the other things, the bad things.
Take your vitamins, baby, because you only get one body and you only get one chance at life. Your mother believes in that reincarnation but it’s a load of crap. She let’s herself off the hook with that. I don’t think tattoos are a good idea but if I did, and if I had to get one, a gun to my head or somethin’, it would be “Carpe Diem”.
You know what that means?
It’s juicy. Hard to find a juicy cantaloupe in February.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
From here you look like you’re in a lot of pain. I can see it in my sleep, it’s sort of making its way into my dreams. I hear you cringe and suck your teeth. Every time you move you sound like you’re going to die. In my dream of you, your mother’s there and she’s watching us interact with a judging eye. She thinks I haven’t been taking care of you, and she can see your pain too. I tell her, no, it’s not how it seems, you don’t want my help and I’ve kept my hand there on where I think it’s hurting you the whole night. She just scoffs and then drives her smart car through the mud flicking speckles of wet dirt onto my favourite blue dress. That’s how I know it’s a dream, because nothing makes sense, and your mother would never get mad at me for you hurting yourself. I’m eased by how little she knows about us. About what I see from my side of the bed. From what I see when my eyes are closed and you’re babbling about something regarding open heart surgeries, and those ginger cookies your grandfather stole for us.
Saturday, May 18, 2013 at Knowlton Lake
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.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
the Emergen-C packet
My grandfather says the following. It treated me well. Trust it.
“Supplement your post-secondary education with travelling the globe, especially to the tiny spots that are mostly untrodden and left alone, the ones that are small dots on the map in unbolded script. Go to a restaurant there that is not on a main road and ask the waiter to order you his favourite dish, as well as a glass of their best wine. Try their coffee or their fish or their pesto or their lamb shank – whatever the specialty. Talk to your waiter. Ask him about his family. More often than not, this will result in an invitation to his home. If so, buy a gift for his wife and a toy for his children. Here is where the magic will take place. They will want to practise their English and you will want to try more of that delicious local specialty! Stay late, after the children are asleep. Share that cigar. Take the long way back to your hotel and stop to look up at the stars, or listen to the ocean, or smell the laundress hard at work pressing tomorrow’s shirts and slacks. The next morning go for a long walk, around the winding streets, up the mountainside, down to the water. Find me a postcard in a shop. Even though I’ll be long dead, mail to me, I know it will find it’s way to wherever it is that I am.”