“I step into the cold silence.” by Julia in her office

Wednesday December 4, 2019
2:19pm
5 minutes
New Planet
Misha Penton

It feels more like an autumn day than spring, something like October keeps ringing in my ears and against them.

A resistance here, a noticing. These two have never come together before.
And now in my bigger boots I can sense the weighted thought and it is attached to me.

The breeze whisks the hair around my face into a halo of buzzing. I cannot pretend I do not ache for sunny days, but this, this aliveness is more than
I thought I would know.

The air around me is still and I can hear a quiet humming.
I listen and find grace in the willingness to acknowledge.

It’s not hunger, it’s not sleep, but grief collected.
And here I count the withered leaves, one and two and three upon the ground.

It feels more…

“he became a living legend” by Julia in her office

Tuesday December 3, 2019
2:08pm
5 minutes
from Elvis Presley’s gravestone

He gave a call to his grandmother every Friday at 3
She liked to sit and knit a scarf or a blanket as he he’d speak
The wind was sometimes louder than the other days he’d ring
but she would stay on the line not to miss a thing
He’d tell her about his week at school and how he won the game
He’d ask her what news she learned even though it was always the same
He’d tell her she was his favourite and no one could come close
She’d smile and wipe a drop from her eye and say she loved him most

One day the phone rang and rang without her familiar greeting
she did not answer when he dialled and left him afraid of feeling
What would he do without this woman who had held his tears
Now that she was resting peacefully no longer here
He left a one final voicemail to tell her of his day
and knew that he could tell her that he loved her one last way

“A funeral” by Julia at her desk

Thursday August 8, 2019
10:21pm
5 minutes
Sophocles
Charles Kell

it’s a colour i can’t name
so i don’t bother

it’s not about getting it right
but the proof of you being gone

is louder when there is something
to nestle your name under

once here now not
the categories of today and yesterday

and should have called you more
and should have loved you better

it’s sad because i would have written
a really nice eulogy for you and

i know now i am holding on to that
as if it might have brought you back

right before you’d have to hear me
deliver it in front of everyone

no words can bring you back and i
have to accept that as hard as it is

not mine and not yours and not god’s
or whoever is doing the talking now

at the funeral someone else spoke
and it was fine for someone who

isn’t the colour that you are
the colour that shall not be named

“Redeemable exclusively at” by Julia on her bed

Thursday August 1, 2019
2:40pm
5 minutes
From a Salvation Army flyer

you can cash in here
give your nickles and dimes
for a better time
sure you can cash in here

i’ve got some grief i need to redeem, trade it in for
a bucket of your best excuses
mourn the loss of every baby i let die in the mines after i finally said they could be gold

i did what i was told, held their hands and plugged their noses, dunked their heads and laid out roses
the goodbye don’t come easy when it’s not your time to go

you can cash in here, get your bang for your buck, i’m the counter with the tear duct tango and you’re trying to find someone to dip

“It must be nice to hold” by Julia at the cabin in Galina Bay

Thursday June 27, 2019
9:45pm
5 minutes
Calypso
David Sedaris

Like the front scruff of a standard poodle, the soft of a blind dog’s ears.
There is more to feel than the fur or the bone. It must be nice to hold the trust of your companion–in a small dish, or a pocket. Safe there from the heartbreak of losing the other half of his soul.
We offer choice to a dog who has lost the ability to decide whether to stay in or go out.
A lap for a lay, will he or will he remain upright for the third day in a row?
Will he stop trembling?
Will he say yes? Or maybe?

“how will I survive without you” by Julia on her patio

Thursday May 30, 2019
8:30pm
5 minutes
Overheard on the patio across from her

my sister is picking the poetry she’ll sing at my tribute concert. she’s gotten a composer to put my words to music. it’s going to be heartbreaking and strange. I never thought anyone was going to hear what i wrote and now I’m not even there to willingly give it. my sister means well. i’m glad she’s choosing the writing out of anyone who could have free reign on my books but I never wanted this. I wasn’t secretly hoping people would see them. that sounds like a lie but it’s not. I honestly wrote most of that for me. and if someone gets hurt by what I said, how will that bring me peace? I know I felt my own shit in the moment and it didn’t change my love after I felt it. how am I supposed to explain that to them now that I’m dead?

“O Dio, vorrei morir” by Julia at her desk

Saturday May 25, 2019
7:02pm
5 minutes
Gianni Schicchi
Giacomo Puccini

I have asked you before but you ignored it.
So I’m not asking anymore, I’m telling you.
I would like to die.
If I cannot see my son, because my son is
never coming back, then what is there left
to live? I mean, there is nothing for me if
he is not here. I am not asking anymore.

I see him sometimes as the butterfly
that has been visiting me every day since
he was taken from me. Does a butterfly
who is not carrying the spirit of a loved one
land on your shoulder, or the kiss of your knuckle?
No, I am not asking, I already know. It’s him.

I am telling you, God, I have nothing to
offer, contribute. I am no longer holding
all the pieces together, it’s too painful.
The grief pushes out all the cracks and
makes me want to sink into the floor.
I am not asking.

This gash is open for war and I welcome
the blade. Twist it. Twist it all the way.

“a stretch of road, a write, and birch trees” by Sasha in her bed

Sunday April 14, 2019
3:04pm
5 minutes
The Death Of The Partisan Girl
Tom Wayman

Grief has a way of tossing around the heart
a big ginger cat pawing
the beating thing
back and forth and down
by the curb
a stretch of road ahead
that’s sketched in the colours
of a face you’ll never stop missing

You’re not the only one
who wakes up with tears on her pillow
the words to a song you haven’t thought of in years
swinging from the branches of the
dawn mind

You see other people rushing and hustling
and calling and tripping
and a friend tells you that you’ve changed

I have changed
you say and your voice catches
because isn’t change the only thing
that we can count on?

“‘small healings’ take place every day” by Sasha on her couch

Wednesday April 3, 2019
9:36pm
5 minutes
The Human Elements of Psychotherapy
David N. Elkins

Healing found in the gummy smile of a three-month-old
lentils stewed by her mother in my belly
full and empty
both and.

Letting the light in
embracing the magnolias
carpeting the sidewalks
cool air on my toes.

There is no treasure map
for this
and we are not lost
both

a break in the clouds
for a beam of sun
massaging tired eyes
reaching achey heart.

This morning a hundred and fifty
voices sang Let It Be
four thousand kilometres
away we joined in
You could hear us

and my mother spoke
elegance and beauty

her articulation
clear and practised
all the years of
reading poems aloud.

I’ve been praying
to ancestors
to unborn ones

to the hummingbird
drinking sweetness
on the balcony
all hours of the day.

“My brother finds out this Friday” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday April 2, 2019
7:43am
5 minutes
From an email

The morning is quiet.
Your candle is burning.
It was hard to light because it’s burned down low, but I did it.
Got soot on my fingers.
Rubbed it on my robe.
The lilies are opening in slow motion.
The whole apartment smells like flowers.
Bloom after bloom, one by one.
You are close by, I think.
You can be in more than one place now, I think.
“I can’t believe I still have tears,” I say.

Traffic on Oak street hums while I try to meditate.
Seeing you in photograph form and my breath catches in my throat.
I want you close but it needles the sore spots.

I’ll call my mother.
I’ll wash some dishes.
It’s hard now, belly so big with babe.
I’ll take my vitamins.
I’ll think about my mother,
washing dishes,
taking vitamins,
finally resting.

“Falling in love is appropriate for now” by Sasha on her balcony

Monday March 25, 2019
9:02pm
5 minutes
Handy Tips on how to Behave at the Death of the World
Anne Herbert

today we called and told
you that we love you
and when i said it
you said “thanks, sister”

the tears were the
cord connecting my mother
and i across the mountains
the prairie
across the great lakes
a rocky expanse
full fledged
far flung

today we called and told you
that we love you
and you said hello
you heard us
you knew it was me and him
and this little one
nestled
and growing

today was a hard day
a soggy day
a heart on the floor
in the throat
in the guts day
soggy and heavy and
hurting

the only thing
left to say is
i love you
love is the only
word that holds
all the other words
in the bowl of the “o”
in the cup of the “v”

“Are you Joaquin or River?” By Julia on the 2

Saturday February 9, 2019
6:29pm
5 minutes
From a voicemail message

Hey River,

I miss you. I’ll start by saying that. I’m listening to an old tape of you snoring. I used to hate you for it when we shared a room. Recorded you one night to show you just how loud it was. Now all I’m wishing for is to hear you breathe again. I wouldn’t care if it kept me up this time.
I’ve been thinking about you lately. Someone asked how I was doing as if it hasn’t been a lifetime since you left. I fucking miss you every day. Maybe I should have said that. I said, Things are good for me. And they are, you know, most days. I’m working so much you’d be real proud. Wish you could see how much better my chops are now.
Anyway, I know you’re with me so I’m not here to whine. Send me a rumble when you think of it.

Love, Joaquin.

“her sarcastic curl of a smile” By Sasha at her desk

Monday February 4, 2019
2:28pm
5 minutes
Finders Keepers
Stephen King

Sorry it’s taken me so long to write back, D. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking of you, it’s that whenever I sat down at the computer to respond I couldn’t bring myself to actually hit send. I’ve deleted and re-written so many versions of this that I’ve lost count. Really all that I can say at this time is I’m not ready to talk. Grief is a strange beast, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes snarling, sometimes tender, and I’m doing my best to roll with it all honestly, and honesty for me right now looks like – I still need space. I trust that you’ll be able to understand, and that you’ll stop reaching out. When your name appears in my Inbox it’s like you’re knocking at my door, and I can’t have you knocking at my door right now, D.

“There is no rule that is true under the circumstances” by Sasha on her couch

Sunday January 6, 2019
8:42am
5 minutes
Synchronicity
C.G. Jung

We ask ourselves why and how and when and then hold hands and call Red Rover. We swim in the same ocean we pollute and forget the connection between the food we eat and the rising temperatures. We plug our ears when it doesn’t concern us and when it does we scream to the sky and beg for more. Under the circumstances, we are perched on the edge of the precipice, stratus clouds no longer reaching a hand down to help. It rains and rains. The rich get richer. Somebody says that it’s too late and in the heartbeat of my unborn daughter I feel the drum of hope. Hope no longer blind faith or unsubstantiated optimism, but hope like a conversation, like the space between then and now and then.

“The only time this does not happen” by Sasha at the kitchen table

Thursday December 27, 2018
10:12am
5 minutes
The Undiscovered Self
C.G. Jung

I saw that the sky was flames and wept
as I do as we do as we can
The hill across from the window
slips into a dream slips into tomorrow
You go to the fourth floor at seven in the morning
While we sleep
Your children
Your love
Dreaming in the Year of the Pig
when all the babes arrive
Dreaming in black and blue and pink and grey
Tears make way for clementines
make way for baths and stories
All paths lead back to Lou
I saw birds on the wire at Coxwell and Gerrard
There must’ve been seventy of them
Lou said that he wants to live to seventy-two
I saw your eyes cloud
Your doubt surface
Your faith swoop down and lift your chin

“a conversation unfolds” by Sasha at her desk

Sunday, December 2, 2018
7:32am
5 minutes
Conversation Across Languages
Derick Mattern

When I call
the conversation between us
unfolds open
reaches break
lily-of-the-valley
Rose-of-Sharon

Oh the grief is heavy
on my tongue
stretching down
to my throat
to my belly
to my feet

Oh this grief meets
the very core and
I hold you over long distance
airways over the Prairies
I hold you like you did me
when most of what I was
was daughter

“Our “new” or higher brain” by Sasha on her couch

Wednesday November 21, 2018
10:56pm
5 minutes
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering
Sarah J. Buckley

Foggy head foggy heart foggy mouth tastes like floss and tea and tears and beeswax. At home I go through boxes of tissue and swaddle myself in flannel. At home it all flows and that’s good. It’s good when it moves, when it sways, what it somersaults, when it liquifies. Gemini Moon, grant me the strength, give me the power, show me the way. Folding my tongue over in the mouth so that all the feelings stay corked, stay in, where is it appropriate to grieve and celebrate and wail and dance? Turn the music louder til then, turn the heat up, heal in the harmony and the heat. Carve an apple into a heart.

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

Friday November 16, 2018
11:03pm
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

“And we created a hybrid,” by Sasha at her desk

Monday August 27, 2018
7:15am
5 minutes
Poetry Is The Song Of The People
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Finally they are laughing again. It happens without them knowing. Sat around the table, eating homemade caesar salad and garlic bread and baked zucchini. Who knows what was even said, or what was even funny, but they are laughing and they haven’t in a long time, not all of them. When you lose a child, or a sibling, when you lose someone young, you forget how to laugh, or they did. We can’t speak in generalizations, but it’s easy to imagine that this is what happens, that this is what the grip of grief does, that this is what it’s like now. Finally they are laughing again, on this Monday at the end of August, as summer wanes and traffic buzzes and a fruit fly lands on the pineapple on the counter.

“I’m old enough to be that girl’s mother,” by Julia in T’s kitchen

Friday August 24, 2018
7:11pm
5 minutes
My Mother’s Body
Marie Howe

we sit at the diner without speaking. Lulu is mad at me and I am mad at her. the drive was long, quiet, peanut butter stuck in the back of the throat. when I pointed out the horses grazing in the field she gave me the finger. Lu knows i loves horses. she even loves them more than me. I don’t know where I went wrong. i’m old enough to be that girl’s mother but I am not her mother. they don’t tell you that trying to parent another person’s kid will pulverize your heart into something you wish you could snort. Madelyne isn’t sending any instructions from where she is. how to handle a kid who hates me for not being more. when she was just my niece she used to beg Mad to sleep over in my truck. I guess that’s a hope worth tucking beneath the hip.

“it has been six and a half years since you died” by Julia in her sister’s bed

Friday August 10, 2018
10:48pm
5 minutes
Welcome to the Club
Marion Winik

I don’t remember the day you died but I remember how you lived. Your chest was an open x-ray. Here, the place where love scarred you. Here the place hope left. You smiled through your eyes, through the pain, and we knew we were getting the best of you left in you. We knew you were telling the truth when you said you wanted us to find what makes us happy. I remember how you sang Elvis at New Years and Easter and my dad’s birthday. You left every room you entered brighter. You entered every room.

“Getting lost in the dark is my favorite part” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday June 28, 2018
9:56pm
5 minutes
PYNK
Janelle Monáe

I know how the story ends, or at least I pretend that I do. Cello music plays. The lake is like glass. It’s dusk.

Getting lost in the dark is my favourite part. What’s yours?

Solo piano on the record player.

I know how the story ends.

Closing my eyes and seeing the night sky, seeing Jupiter, the full moon, Orion’s Belt.

A loon calls.

Where do we put our grief down when we’ve taken it far enough?

Hurl it into the water and watch as it floats on the surface and then sinks?

Bury it amongst the pines?

Hope that someone, a stranger, might tap me on the shoulder and say, “Would you like me to carry that for you for awhile?”

“Subway platform walls” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Wednesday June 6, 2018
10:10pm
5 minutes
People Revolution
Amani Bin Shinkansen 

So much of this now
maybe someone will listen
Someone big and someone powerful and
someone who can do something
I recognize how that sounds
I recognize how that might sound
naive

When the subway pulled
into the station
everything went black
Someone gasped
Someone said,
“Shit, now I’m going to be late”
Someone said,
“Another fucking jumper”

The ground knows how they feel
The ground can’t jump
I’m sorry if this is morbid
and you were hoping for something
Loving today
These five minutes are for
the grief and the someday somewhere
Maybe it will all get better

“The process is afterall like music,” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday April 6, 2018
9:14pm
5 minutes
Käthe Kollwitz
Miriam Rukeyser

I wonder where the grace
note will come in amidst
the banging and bruising
If I’ll be sitting
at my desk
on the sidewalk
and you’ll suddenly come
to mind
and you’re finally smiling
not that I can’t hold
the grief or the grey
but you’re smiling
and it lifts me
from where I am

I sail over
the rooftops
towards the water
towards where you
are and you don’t
have poems
or words
you don’t even
know I’m there
but I am
I am

“shit and eggshell” by Julia on the 9

Sunday, March 4, 2018
10:13pm
5 minutes
My Life Smells Like This
Amy Bloom

You are no longer sleeping here-I beg the smart side of my brain to seize the opportunity: Paint the fucking thing shit brown and eggshell, a reminder of just how useless you were. The smart part of body buys the brushes, borrows a roller and a tray, sticks colour swatches to the wall. The other side, the middle sister side, sits on the edge of the bed and seizes into a chemical tear bath. The salty breath is held there like a brown paper bag was trying to keep it from floating away. Laboured. Inconsolable. The smart side of my brain has it all figured out: Leave, let leave, let live, live, leave. Do not pick up the phone. Do not keep slippers in the room that fit only the feet who walked out on you. Don’t do it. Don’t ask the other side for grace.

“sometimes a pencil is an octopus” by Sasha by the water

Sunday February 11, 2018
1:41pm
5 minutes
Octopus vs. Pencil
Philip A. Miletic

News coming in on the radio
and I’m boiling eggs.

I didn’t go to the march
because I had tickets to a play
where one brother shoots
the other brother dead.

No irony.
No excuses for inaction.
For silence.
For being afraid of the rage
in the bellies of the First People.

Third generation settler
I’m sick and sorry and grieving and

Can’t shake the guilty feelings.
Can’t shake the feeling that my
whiteness is an affront and what
am I even doing here anyway.

Social media activism feels grimy
ineffective inefficeint fucked up.
I don’t know what else to do.
Give money.
Give love.
Give freely.
Ask of myself how I am a part.

Is the act of my sharing
violence? Listen. Listen?
Listen. Listen listen listen.

I’ve got everything I need here
including the sun today.

“the holy monkeys and the colourful birds” by Julia on the bus to Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng

Tuesday January 30, 2018
8:39am
5 minutes
You
Anna Margolin

In the morning before we said goodbye to Ann, the tiny blue bird with the long beak that I had seen in my half sleep from the bus reappeared. It cradled a thin branch near the water with its feet and stopped the world from stepping. I tried to tell you that it was a sign. You couldn’t see the blue and told me it was probably some other bird. It was the same one and I knew by the way it sat. Its stillness was a perfect one. I would know it anywhere. I managed to quiet my heart beat long enough to hear. To sense the strength or the message or the absence of expectation. I heard it like the humming of my Nonna, her voice soothing while she used to mend my favourite sleep shorts. I would know that sound anywhere. I would.

“She’ll use timid hand gestures,” by Julia on the 9

Friday January 19, 2018
4:48pm
5 minutes
Black Roses Bloom
Bill Gaston

She’ll calmly talk about her dad as if he were still alive. She’ll say he’s gone but her arms don’t quite believe it yet. Her jaw won’t accept it as the truth. She’ll stay up late in bed because the book is that good. Except it won’t be a book she’s reading. It’ll be hard to sleep with all those dreams of him. The ones of him showing up at her door with a basket of fresh picked cherry tomatoes and a couple dangerous Chili peppers. The ones of her getting a call from his cell phone but all he does is laugh and laugh when she picks up. The ones of him squeezing her shoulders when he hugs her tight. The ones of him calling her sweetie after a long time apart.

“Trying to comprehend” by Sasha at Casa Violeta

Tuesday October 10, 2017
3:47pm
5 minutes
from emmadawn.com

Snaking through the jungle, the buggy bumps so hard that my head hits the ceiling. “Are you okay?” Jose, the driver asks. I nod, but I’m dizzy. I think back to when you climbed into my hospital bed and held me as I wept and wept. “Are you okay?” You said, with one hand on my belly. I wept and wept.

I can hear the ocean when the buggy lurches to a stop. I take a deep breath. “Seniorita?” I smile at Jose. “You are here!”

“I am.”

“Enjoy your stay.”

“Yes.”

“more than 20 pages” by Sasha on her balcony


Monday September 11, 2017
1:15am
5 minutes
from bcartscouncil.ca

I haven’t written anything in forty three days
I feel like shit
I want to live in my bed amongst stray hairs and dust bunnies
I won’t take the dog out
She can shit on the balcony in the herbs I haven’t watered

This is what you tell me

I hold your grief for the millionth hour
And I watch as you fall into her like a lover
I cradle your grief here in this public space
In this shop where there’s croissants and babies

We are etched into one another’s star signs
We are tattooed on our guts
We are sisters here in this hot asphalt jungle
Cars honking and streetcars lurching

This is what I tell you

“Host art classes” By Julia at her desk


Saturday August 26, 2017
11:50pm
5 minutes
from a business card


“I think we should buy the warehouse like we talked about.”
“With what money, exactly?”
“Your money. I know, I know–”
“It’s not really my money, you know that right?”
“Well, he left everything to you so whose money could it be?”
“No, obviously, but it doesn’t necesarily feel right to spend it all on an abandonned building because you have a good idea.”
“I am not trying to make you do anything you don’t want to do. But think of what it could be: A place where artists come to create, where they can put on their own events, where we can host classes. Come on, it writes itself.”
“It’s not that easy. I have to make sure I’m using his money for the right thing. This feels like a lot of work.”
“Everything in this life is work. Look, I know I’m asking a lot of you, but you know me. I wouldn’t be suggesting it if I didn’t believe in it. And you have been floating since he died-”
“Am I not allowed to be sad?”
“Of course. Of course you are.”

“We assumed he did.” By Sasha at her kitchen table


Tuesday August 22, 2017
9:44pm
5 minutes
Equus
Peter Shaffer


We assumed that he’d be okay. We thought that he was invincible. He thought he was invincible. After a month of sitting beside him in the hospital, we start to lose sense of time. Days blur to hours and minutes slam weeks. Grief is thick in these buildings. We make bad, morose jokes. Toby starts smoking again. Ivy texts from Delaware but we can’t loop her, it’s impossible. You have to be here, I say, finally, on the phone in the gift shop. I pick up a stuffed bear and hug it.

“I had been able only to grieve” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Tuesday May 2, 2017
8:58pm
5 minutes
The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion


Grief is a sister to
all of us I’ve come
to know this now better
than ever

These days
she sits in the lotus
position
in my throat

unnamed
untamed
uninvited
unbelievable

She wags her finger
at the lazy zeal of
a screen made of mirrors
chasing a time before
the dollar signs and the
gas station blow jobs

“I had been able only to grieve” by Julia on the couch


Tuesday May 2, 2017
8:50pm
5 minutes
The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion


we lost our muscles
left them somewhere between here and there
the radio show was static familiar
we counted the clicks and the white noise like ducks in a row
we are not walking or running
the streets are filled with other people’s shoes
we had no time for writing cards
to express condolences
to each other
there were too many floors to find
too many beds to melt
too many casserole dishes to wash
we promised to press our palms together every hour
to remind us what living flesh felt like
the telephone had to be disconnected
too many hearts bleeding on the line

“We talk all about our relationship” by Julia in her bed


Sunday November 6, 2016
11:28pm
5 minutes
Dear Sugar Radio

It’s been sixteen weeks since I’ve seen you. Sixteen weeks since we’ve talked. You told me not to be surprised if you one day couldn’t stand talking to me and now that day is here. I can’t say I was surprised or not. You’re not here. I’m grieving. I don’t have time for surprise.
I wish I hadn’t made you hate me to the point of I told you so. Sixteen weeks when the longest stretch before that was sixteen hours. I don’t know what days mean anymore. I don’t know what minutes are. I’m dying for you to forgive yourself for loving me so you can come back and get the real loving you expected.

“You change when you want to change” by Sasha on the 99


Monday May 16, 2016
10:37pm
5 minutes
huffingtonpost.com

You leave me letters in the mailbox, even after you’ve died. You’d warned me this might happen, shelling peas in your hospital room a few weeks ago. I laughed and kissed your toes. You always changed when you wanted to change, not before, not after, just then.

I’m smoking all the weed that’s left, once the sun goes down and Liam is asleep. Kali is scared I might become addicted but I tell her to fuck off and let me grieve the way I want to grieve. I miss you so much my throat swells. I miss you so much my gut aches for the smell of you.

“In just 10 months you have come a long way” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Tuesday May 3, 2016
10:53pm
5 minutes
From the Twitter account of the woman sitting in front of Julia

Grief looks good on her. At least that’s what people keep saying. Not directly, but that’s what they’re saying, under the tight lipped smiles. Mostly other women. Sometimes men, but it’s quiet, it’s less direct. She’s running every day, because she can’t sit still. Her feet shuffle when she’s at the table, opening the mail. She tries to write in the journal that her sister sent her from the New Age gift shop, but the pen won’t move. Meanwhile, her knees jump. She runs in the ravine, where the trees haven’t really changed since she was a child. She starts drinking all of her meals, unable to chew, almost unable to swallow.

“all that we went through” by Julia at her dining table


Saturday April 16, 2016
5:31pm
5 minutes
Back to Black
Amy Winehouse


I don’t feel right writing this. You’ve been gone for one month. I know you said it wouldn’t bother you if I saw other people once you said goodbye, but everyone else is saying it’s too soon. I met someone. I don’t know if he’s my one, but he’s someone and it feels nice to be with a man that isn’t dying. Your mother is still angry at me. She thinks I am mistreating your memory, disrespecting what we had. But the worst part is, I know I’m not doing anything wrong and I know that when you told me you didn’t want me to mourn you for long that you meant it. I still love you, I always will. I would have died with you if I could have but it doesn’t work like that. I wanted to thank you for being so understanding and trusting and knowing that me dating someone else does not mean I’ve moved on or that I’m okay or that I wanted to be with someone else this whole time. Nobody outside of us can know what we went through and what we talked about and what we decided together. Now all that’s left is my side of the story and no one seems to want to believe me when I say it’s okay that this is happening and you wouldn’t be upset. I don’t know how long I can keep justifying myself in the eyes of your family or my family. I miss you more than life.

“a finger in each mouth” by Julia at her desk


Sunday November 22, 2015
8:11pm
5 minutes
From a poem by bell hooks

I can’t read what you wrote because it hurts me every time
like a knife in my side
like a drill in my spine
I can’t see your doctor-prescription-careless-anarchy penmanship because it reminds me that you don’t have any respect for what I do
Your o’s look like d’s, your d’s look like meteors
your ripped napkin with the tomato sauce stain letterhead of our kitchen makes me cry
The part scratched out that I wish to God I could read haunts me
You told me you were leaving me on a garbage scrap and then left it on the fridge next to the photo of us rubbing noses

“Rainfall warning” by Julia on her couch


Thursday November 12, 2015
10:31pm
5 minutes
from the weather network

Hasn’t stopped raining for weeks. Grant called last night to tell me he was sorry and wished he could have stopped by more. I told him not to worry, there were enough people coming by the house to make sure I was getting out of bed. He asked if Mary-Beth made he famous Parmigiana and I said yeah, for the third time. Hasn’t stopped raining since. When I found out, Grant was on his way over to drop off a pair of winter gloves for Owen so he was there when it all hit. He gave me a long hug and told me it was going to be okay. I didn’t let him leave me that night and he’s still acting strange about it. I don’t know why he feels bad, nothing matters anymore. I’m the one who has to live with it, and all I know is life is pretty short so nothing fucking matters. Hasn’t stopped raining for weeks.

“with the theme of fear” by Sasha at the table at Pascoe Rd.


Monday November 9, 2015
1:17pm
5 minutes
ionmagazine.ca

The night she dies I get a text from a bartender
I sometimes fuck
I wash my
face I get on my
bicycle and I go to
his house
On the way
Somewhere east of Dupont
My chain falls off
I can’t stop the tears
Can’t stop the oil from getting
on my dress
I arrive too close to morning
too far from my father
He lights a joint and the promise
I made to myself not to tell him
Undoes like the clasp of my bra
Naked I’m a puddle of chipped nail polish and
missing
He’s a father so he knows
how to soothe
He rubs my back until I’m hiccups and
when we fuck he’s gentle
he knows just how to look me
in the eye
I leave before I can feel grosser before
I can taste the tinniness of shame
My tongue heavy in my mouth I sing
under my breath
Up the hill on the way
home

“amazing work” by Julia on her couch


Friday, October 23, 2015
9:44pm
5 minutes
from a Facebook post

I had been trying to catch his attention for, if I’m counting, the last twelve years. Huh. Wow. That’s more than I thought I’d admit. Was hopeful. I mean, who wasn’t at that age. But I guess it’s not fair to take it personally. He wasn’t not loving me, he was just, not forgetting her. I don’t know if I would do it any differently than that myself. I’ve never lost a child so I don’t get to pretend to understand. But weeks bleed into months and then years, and it all just feels like the same nightmare, playing over and over or just continuing without resolve every 16 hours. This time it was a scholarship that I was awarded because of my application letter about him. I wanted to show him. He wanted to drink.

“I would like to invite you” by Sasha at Benny’s


Friday October 9, 2015 at Benny’s
3:20pm
5 minutes
from an e-mail

I don’t know what to say. I’m afraid that when I open my mouth I’m going to say the wrong thing. I’m afraid I’m going to ask how Judd’s doing, if he’s been playing his guitar in the hospital. I don’t know what to say so I would like to invite you over for pizza. I’m going to make it. I’ll knead the dough and let it rise and it will be thin, how you like it. I won’t put tomato sauce on it, because tomatoes make your tongue feel strange. If you bring Judd up, I’ll listen. I won’t change the subject because I don’t know what to say. I’ll give you a massive ball of dough to take home so that you can make pizzas all week. I’ll loan you my pizza pan. I’ll kiss your eyes. I’ll let you sleep over.

“the result of a period of research” by Sasha on her couch


Thursday, August 27, 20151
8:36pm
5 minutes
Presence of Minds: The Importance of Active Exploration and Response in Dramaturgy
Christopher Michael Petty


I find I’m less lonely when the radio’s on. I’m sorry to be speaking about my loneliness again. I find that when the radio’s on I think less about Gwen and more about the whole wide world. Like the wars and the orphans and the earthquakes and global warming. Strangely, it doesn’t depress me like it used to… It used to really throw me for a loop. I actually remember saying to Gwen, “I can’t watch the news anymore, dear. Makes me feel so helpless and sad.” She’d draw spirals on my palm with her pinky.

“It has nothing to do with you” by Sasha on her porch


Saturday, August 22, 2015
10:31pm
5 minutes
Art & Fear
David Bayles & Ted Orland


When Moses comes home, you will reach for him like you once did. He will turn towards you but shake his head slow, like rain moving across the water. You will ask him what he saw, what he did, what he didn’t do. He will turn away, like summer does in September, and turn on the TV. You will be patient for days, for nights, for months, until one day you will reach for his hand. He will extend his open palm. You will put your cheek in it, a puzzle piece, and he will finally cry. A tsunami is often caused by an earthquake. You know this, and you will feel the ground shake. The tears don’t stop until the moon hangs drunk on the horizon. The wave comes in.

“I see four stages” by Julia on the bench outside Baldwin Laundry


Friday, July 10, 2015
4:08pm
5 minutes
On Writing Zion
Maureen Stanton


Day One:
listening at the door to see if Alistair is still crying into his pillow
making sure he knows he can talk to me if he needs to
hoping that if he needs to he doesn’t bring up Deb
knowing that if he’s going to, he’s going to bring up Deb
preparing to talk about Deb
hand-washing the kimono Rufus stole for me at the charity drive
listening to Marco Beltrami to help focus my intentions

Day Two:
Consoling Alistair again about Deb
Using kind words with him like Easy Does It, There There Sweet One, I’m Not Going Anywhere
Wearing the kimono in front of the mirror to test it out
Deciding to wear the kimono loosely tied when dealing with Alistair
Figuring out ways to move my body naturally so as not to arouse suspicion when dealing with Alistair
practicing the look of genuine understanding and concern mixed with attraction

“And she put her arms around me,” by Sasha on the 99 going East


Tuesday, July 7, 2015
6:10pm
5 minutes
A Complicated Kindness
Miriam Toews


Fiona put her arms around me and coo-ed in my ears, “Shush, baby girl… Shushhh…” I cried until I couldn’t cry and then I cried more.

The next morning I charade as okay and eat too much granola and then feel sick.
“Can’t go to work today,” I say, rubbing my belly.
She keeps her eyes on her grapefruit and says, “Go on. It’ll do you good.”
I go but regret it.
My boss tells me I “look like a bag of shit.” He’s right, but has some nerve saying it. Henrietta jumps to my rescue and says, “Allergies, eh? So bad right now.” She winks and it feels like a kiss on my temple.

When I get home, Fiona has left me pancakes on the counter with a note that says, “Breakfast for dinner!” And a smiley face.
And a heart.

“Can I get you anything?” by Julia at her desk


Monday, June 8, 2015
3:12pm
5 minutes
Overheard at Culprit Coffee Co.

Then suddenly I was at his funeral and his mother had asked me to say a few words. I didn’t want to say any words at all, maybe for the first time in my entire life, even. I was angry at her for even suggesting it, as if she knew I couldn’t say no even though I feared that saying anything at all would break me into a million pieces, beyond repair and reassembly.
So I started to write out a dedication to my fiancé and realized it would take years to truly honour him properly. The way I was headed, I was lucky if I could get past writing his name without weeping uncontrollably, no matter where I was or how much I had just cried over him. I didn’t want to seem weak, but what if I couldn’t read anything when it was time? What if the only thing that came out was a pained shriek or a wimper?

“You saw her bathing on the roof” by Julia in her childhood bedroom


Sunday March 1, 2015
11:56pm
5 minutes
Hallelujah
Leonard Cohen


I’ve seen all your parts
Tarnished and familiar
Bruised from being too sensitive
And taking a world’s beating
You glow sometimes
under the proper light
When the pain is dimmed down low
And you feel safe in you skin
When you trust yourself enough
To thank your demons for their good fight
And to put a stop
to any future breakage
I’ve seen all your parts
Bathing in the haze of the moon
Your heart creaks
when it’s been walked over
That’s how you recognize the enemy
That’s how you know when to rebuild the wall
And the faint memory of it cracking
Keeps you far away from me
Even though I’m here to hold you
Even though I’m here to hold you

“Can you see anything?” by Julia on Amanda’s couch


Saturday February 28, 2015
3:05am
5 minutes
overheard at Amanda’s house

I begged Birdie to let me have a look but she told me I was being impatient and to show some courtesy. When I asked her what courtesy meant she shushed me so fast it sounded like a bullet was zooming right past my face. It was my idea in the first place to “borrow” uncle Ray’s ladder and creep up the side of the fence. Birdie didn’t trust me with being the first set of eyes on Old Annabel Winkler because she was convinced I wouldn’t be able to
control my laughter and I’d give away our hiding spot in seconds. Then she got up there and all she was saying was “ooh” “woah” “oh my gosh” and “no way!”