Tuesday August 8, 2017
I want to impress you
I don’t want you to see my doing it
When there’s peace it’s too vague it’s too far away
Barcelona from Saskatoon
Yellowknife from Johannesburg
I wonder what you’re wearing now that you live south of
I wonder if you still wear those aviators
I wonder if you’re still carving soap stone into mermaids
Catching babies as a hobby
I want to impress you
even when you’re not here
even when we haven’t spoken in twelve years
my body floods
Saturday March 25, 2017
From a fridge notepad
When this song comes on, it reminds me of you like that summer was last summer. It wasn’t. It was seven summer’s ago, and I didn’t even have a good time, mostly, but there’s something about you, there’s something about then, that catches like a bubble in my throat. I cough. Can I finally dislodge this? Can I finally blow you away?
I consider emailing you, with this song, in this coffee shop. But I don’t. I don’t need to write another chapter to that story.
Wednesday January 11, 2016
When we saw each other again for the first time in three years, you looked different. You smiled different. I felt like you did that on purpose so I wouldn’t look too closely at the you we both know you used to be. It didn’t work. Distractions don’t work on people who have seen your entire insides. I should know. I can’t hide from you either. Even if I was panicking about how I looked seconds before you met me at the underground station. I didn’t want you to think anything other than I Used To Love This Person. I wish I didn’t think that appearances were the only road to remembering that. When we hugged I tried to hold on a little longer so I could smell your neck. I don’t know if I was expecting the same smell you used to have, or hoping for a new one to break all my stupid patterns. Either way I might have been the only one in that hug, and it broke my heart a little. You told me that it’s good to see me and I wanted to say Yeah? But Can You Define What Good Means To You Real Quick? Instead I laughed and swatted at your arm, saying You Too, You Too.
Wednesday November 4, 2015
Nonna doesn’t stop talking until you ask her to talk about herself.
In fact, that is how you get Nonna to stop talking.
It was an accident that I found that fact to be true, but it’s true none the less.
I asked her once to tell me about when she was younger.
“Tell me about the dancing! Tell me about you and Nonno dancing or kissing or both.”
“Oh, we were young, yes, a long time ago. We did some dancing.”
She tells me this, in Italian, as she lays the tomatoes out to be sun-dried.
“No, Nonna, I mean tell me about your dancing. What kind of music did you like? What kind of necklaces did you wear?”
But she doesn’t want to tell me, or remind herself, and instead she trails off in a way that makes her sound like she doesn’t quite believe the sound of her own voice.
“Okay Nonna, tell me about the tomatoes.”
“Oh, these tomatoes? I picked these tomatoes. All by myself. This morning. I hurt my joints because I picked them so long.”
Thursday, August 6, 2015
I heard the cry of your sorry bones
Creeping up to the surface
Poking through the earth, begging, pleading
The haunting was my lullaby
The dream a hoax fabricated by guilt and uncertainty
Far apart from you I wept
Far apart I wished it was my life that was buried instead
I learned to sleep with the white noise of your pain;
the gentle and ever-present reminder that you were gone
That my punishment for all wrongs otherwise
Was getting out of bed even after memory restored
To face your ghost
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
from Harper’s at a kiosk at the airport
Didn’t trust myself with Audrey. I didn’t know what I would do to her if I got mad and she said the wrong thing. I didn’t have the breaks for something like that. Some people, you know, they can stop on a dime, but not me. For me it’s 0-100 and there’s no taking back after that. Audrey, you know, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She always was. And the first time I realized I wasn’t safe for her was the last time. I snapped. I just…leapt out of my skin and I was a monster. Truly. At the time it was her or me. Feeding Audrey or feeding the monster. Only one of them could eat at a time and I used to make sure that I knew the difference. That wasn’t easy.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
from a pencil case
Lana blotted the excess lipstick off with a square of toilet paper, remembering how her aunt Kathy showed her while she was living with her. Apparently Aunt Kathy was only supposed to stay for a couple weeks-a month tops- but things got complicated and before they all knew it, it had already been 4 years. Lana used to hear Aunt Kathy in the early morning when she would get up to shower and get herself ready for her receptionist job. When the water would stop, Lana would crawl out of bed and go sit beside the bathroom door, tapping on it quietly. Aunt Kathy would open the door, scoop her up and sit Lana down on the toilet seat while she did her makeup. Lana would have been two years old. She didn’t say a word, but she watched Aunt Kathy’s every move from the blush to the spacing out of her mascaraed eyelashes with the tip of a safety pin. On some days, Aunt Kathy would even put a little eye shadow on Lana, or let her taste a bit of her vanilla lip gloss.
Friday, July 10, 2015
On Writing Zion
I see four stages
You’re standing on one of them
Your skirt makes a tulip around you
Your hair a halo
On the stage to your right
Your cousin Miles
His eyes are closed
He’s thinking about algebraic equations
and whipped cream
On the stage to your left
The man from the dry cleaner on 1st
Unsure why he’s there
Happy to be included
He lives alone and
rarely gets to spend Sundays with others
On the final stage
Trying to remember this
Using any means necessary
A notebook between my teeth
A pencil behind my ear
Thursday November 27, 2014
The city’s all lit up at night now
There are lights hung from the tree tips
There’s that feeling in the air
It was her favourite and everyone knows that still
It’s probably the hardest part of everything
Seeing her face in the snow
In the ice rinks
In the candy canes
So what do we do now?
She’s not coming back so we have to make a choice
When it’s hard that’s when she’s closest
So with that we can make a fresh attempt
When it’s hard
When it’s hard and beautiful out
When people look happy
Sunday September 28, 2014
Writing Down The Bones
we can remember everything
not only what happened to us
what happened to the ones that came before
what burned their hands
and their wonder
you tell me about smelling the train
the sounds outside
bombs and lightning
not knowing if the bursts of light
were from one
or the other
you tell me and i know you know it’s
she wears a nun’s habit because she thinks it will save her
she’s a religious woman
it’s not bad
no one is judging her
i was there the night the car crashed
dead on impact
dead on the spot
stopped in the tracks
i remember the naked sky
but i wasn’t there
and neither were you
but we remember
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
from the Sun Wikipedia page
When we barbecue on the porch in the rain, it reminds me of being ten on the Island. My grandmother would send my sister and I bus tickets. They’d come the week before we were set to leave. There’d be handdrawn postcard with the three of us and her husky, Farley. She’d meet us at the ferry dock, raspberries and dark chocolate in her hands. She’d kiss us on the mouth and hold us at arms length to take in each of the changes. “Nadine, you’ve got an extra freckle on your cheek!” “Odessa, you’re one eighth of an inch taller!” Farley would lick our toes as we giggled and shook our heads. She’d leave her old station wagon on the other side, and when we piled into the back there’d always be a fresh beach towel and a peach for each of us. We’d drive, windows down, Bruce Cockburn on the tape deck, until we arrived at her cottage by the sea.
Wednesday June 25, 2014
the Canon Camera User Guide
When Sally and I were small, we’d forget to brush our teeth after eating popsicles and wake up with fuzzies. “Sweaters”, she’d call them. “Patty’s wearing sweaters on his teeth!” She’d say.
When Sally and I were small, we’d go on hikes in the woods behind Grandpa’s cabin (our parents would dump us there for ten days in August while they went camping in Algonquin Park). We’d get lost and Sally would have to use the compass clipped to her belt loop to find our way back.
When Sally and I were small, she would kiss me on the lips, counting to ten in her head, opening them ever so slightly. She would pull away and say, “Did you feel anything?”
When Sally and I were small we would open Mom’s mail before she got home from work and try to understand the bills, the curly handwriting of Aunty Odessa.
Friday May 30, 2014 at The CSI Coffee Pub
L’OREAL ad in Flare Magazine
Cool fingertips on my eyelids and that’s how we met
He said, you will change the world with your words
I said, tell me that again and again and again
He said, write me something beautiful–write me something that looks like you
And I died
And I died
And I died
He rocked his head from side to side to a rhythm I couldn’t hear
I said, what song is in your brain right now
And he said, the one you sang to me in your sleep last night
I said, the one about the moon?
And he said, you always sing about the moon.
Cool fingertips on my eyelids and that’s how we fell in love
He said, when you think that you can’t, remember this feeling, this calming
I said, will you come with me forever?
He said, I’ll try. I’ll try to stop time too if you need
And I died
And I died
And I died
Friday May 23, 2014
overheard on the streetcar
Oh My LANTA!!! ABBY!!! You’re looking like a real woman these days aren’t you! I can’t believe it, you’re so tall now. And look at those cheeks! Where did they even go? When you were little you used to have the chubbiest, fattest cheeks, I used to pinch ’em and tug ’em and cover ’em with so many kisses, my goodness, you used to hate that! Oh honey plum, I don’t even blame you! The whole world wanted to squeeze you dry, girlie, oh yes they did. I’m sorry about that now, but oh! I couldn’t help myself, they were just so darn big! And this dress you have on, let me take a look at you. Oh wow, spin around again, that is one heck of a figure you’ve got, now don’t you! I bet you drive all the boys crazy with those legs for days and days! Oh Abby, I used to have legs for days and days before the varicose veins and the knee surgeries, let me tell you a story! You know your father’s the one that bashed in my knee with a baseball all those years ago! I was pitching to him and he hit a line drive right into my bank account! I joke about that now because he felt so bad and all those treatments cost so much money cause I could barely stand! Oh but you!! You look wonderful!!
Wednesday May 7, 2014
From the Worldstage program of Mies Julie
Remember when we were young and in love and I’d whisper to you that I wasn’t wearing any underwear and you’d take hand and whisper back that if we didn’t leave where we were right then we’d be forced to commit an act of indecency? Remember how you’d send me dirty postcards in the mail and sign them with a fake name so none of my neighbours would know it was you? I’ve been thinking of those things so much lately. I don’t know why I just started having the longing to see you the way I used to and for you to see me the same way. It was so different there. Such late nights, such passionate conversation, such indulgent behaviour–and now when I try to categorize who we’ve become none of those words come to mind. Things like “comfortable” and “static” are what I see.
Friday May 2, 2014
from the sponge wrapper
Papa used to get so mad at me when I’d track mud through the house–told me, Deirdre, could you for once stop playing like a little piggy? And I’d say, Papa, I’ll just take them off, it’s easier. He’d smile and say, Sure, sure, Dee Dee, and I’d smile back and say, You’ll miss me to the moon when I’m gone.
I didn’t quite know what that meant but I had heard Lucy-Bell say it to her boyfriend when they were having a big fight out on the veranda. She’d run in screaming just to scream and told me to stay out of her way or she’d yank every blonde hair out of my head one by one. I’d sit by the front window and watch her boyfriend, Dillon, with his hands in his jean pockets and his eyes closed, just sighing at the night and all its bigness. Probably at Lucy-Bell in all her bigness. I didn’t want Papa to think I wasn’t good at listening, I just always forgot to do what he told me cause I’d get so caught up in the fun of it all.
Thursday May 1, 2014
The Q Podcast
I forgot what your face looked like for a brief moment yesterday. I was having one of those fake conversations with you in my head and I was trying to picture your exact reaction- that head tilt to the side and that one squinty eye thing. I kept saying my part over and over and I couldn’t see your face in the response. So I changed what I said and I waited for your face to just magically appear. It didn’t. It was so strange. Up until now all I had to do was think of you and it would be as if I was sitting right next to you, almost touching your skin with mine and hearing you breathe.
This feeling, it was like going blind. It was being able to see my entire life for my entire life, the sunsets, the stars, the reeds sticking out alongside the river, and then suddenly being forced to make out a picture in complete darkness.
I didn’t want to tell you that. I didn’t want you to think it was the beginning of the end or something. It wasn’t. It was just a trick of the mind, a game my head was playing on me. Maybe even just a test to see what I held dear…
Wednesday April 23, 2014
I was the kinda kid that wanted freckles, I wanted to be better at football and I wanted parents that cared enough to stick around. My Nana raised my brothers and I. She was the kinda lady that always had a bed for you and some leftovers staying warm in the oven. My Dad was busted for some criminal activity at the lounge he was managing and had to spend sixteen months in a minimum security prison. My Mom was “following her heart” and find Jesus on some farm in the Midwest. My oldest brother Donny went on a lot of dates. He was only allowed to go out on Fridays and Saturdays, though, so he had a wait list of girls… Or so he said. I’d watch him get ready, clenching his jaw as he looked at himself in the mirror, rubbing hair gel between his palms and smoothing it over his head. Donny wasn’t even the best looking of all of us, but he tried the hardest. He spent an hour lifting weights and doing pushups and sit ups in his room every night before bed. I knew it because Paul and my room was next to his and Karl’s and we could hear his grunts and he struggled and counted – “fifty six, fifty seven, fifty eight…”
Wednesday March 12, 2014 at The CSI Coffee Pub
A writing group warm-up led by Dianne
I believe that life is made up of tiny insignificant dust particles that when stitched together form a quilt of all the moments we pretend we don’t see–or pretend don’t even exist.
I believe that when we close our eyes in the middle of a moment, we capture it better, giving over to the shutter bug in our insides that is in charge of all the remembering.
I believe that life is this: tiny moments, tiny dust, tiny realizations every second– that when we allow them, transform into not so tiny anythings…but the best kinds of love, of want, of joy, of happiness, of pain, of mess, of sorrow, of learning, of flying, of forgiveness, of seeing.
I believe that life is longer than we let it be and more important than we sometimes treat it, that John Steinbeck’s East Of Eden has the secrets to the universe, to this life we’re jumping in and out of, and that if read slow enough and in the right light, we see the God that we wish we knew.
Wednesday March 12, 2014 at The CSI Coffee Pub
A writing group warm-up led by Dianne
I believe that life is like a snail, dragging its own slime, dragging its own house, sometimes getting stepped on and crushed and sometimes living on a sea wall, undisturbed, for five hundred years.
I believe that life is connection to the dead and dying, the remembering, the saving, the fighting for what’s been lost and is not quite yet lost – the great plains toad, the whippoorwill, blue walleye.
I believe that life is words in black ink on a lined Hilroy notebook purchased for ten cents at Staples by my mother.
I believe that all there really is…
I believe that all there really is…
I believe that all there really is
I believe that it’s all messy, and music, all teeth and bone, all muffins baking in the oven, all indulgence, all balance, all now.
I believe that “life” is “now”. From now on, in fact, from hereon in, in fact, my “life” is my “now”.
Monday, March 10 2014
The Bookman’s Wake
“Where does fact end and fiction begin?” She hears him ask the question but she pretends she doesn’t. “You know what I mean?” She’s thinking about hula hooping her way to another town, another time zone, another temperature. “Elisa?” She remembers how her mother would call her name. She’d be in the ravine behind their house, talking to fairies, telling stories to herself, crouched beside a tree trying to memorize the feel of the bark with her fingers. “Hello?” She remembers answering the phone at her reception job the summer she decided to finally try smoking week – “Hello you’ve reached Hill and Hill, this is Elisa speaking, how can I help you?” “Where are you?!” Graham grabs her face. She’s forced to look.
Wednesday October 23, 2013
National Geographic Photo Issue
“Remember when you forgot your own postal code? That was soooo funny!” Lukas laughs. “Remember when you put all those sticky notes everywhere? With all those reminders? That was hillllarious!” He picks at a chicken pock scab on his forehead. “How many days til Christmas?” He asks. The scab is bleeding. He holds his finger to it and then tastes. “My blood tastes like perfume!” He holds out his finger to me, “Wanna try?” I pause. I nod. How can I ever say no to this boy? He squeezes his forehead and a red droplet appears. He extends his finger to me again. I take it into my mouth and suck, gently. Rose and lilac, lavender and mandarin. “That tickles! Grandma! That tickles!” I bite down and he squeals.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
From the writer’s workout warm-up
I remember the feel of your morning skin more than the taste of your kiss. It’s something that eases me, that keeps me from spinning into the unknown. You lay there, sleeping, mumbling something to me or yourself, about me, or yourself, and I know you. Your skin: cool from the ever-blowing fan because of the air conditioner we never ever purchased. Your skin, inviting and honest, cloaking your masculinity, your desires, your rage. I remember that feel, that cool sticky skin feel, when I hate you. When I wish you never told me you loved me. When you break my bracelet because you can’t help yourself but play with the dainty things that are strewn across the dresser we share. That’s when I crawl back into those pretty morning moments, and I’m still, laying there behind you, counting your freckles and believing that I could not want for anything but this.
Your heart, a beating, living thing beneath the skin. I’m intrigued by its rhythm and the secrets you hold close but only let me see when you’re sleeping away. I remember.
Sunday March 10, 2013
Without a second glance he walked away from me. He wasn’t trying to be rude, just succinct, just biting the bullet.
I was mad at him when he first left. Thinking he was in fact doing it on purpose. It was easier to hate him that way. I got good memories of us together for free; I didn’t need to be skilled at that. Thinking I was better off without him and believing it were a little more challenging. I tried not to think of his arm veins or the one blonde eyebrow hair that he wouldn’t let me pluck out.
When he walked away he didn’t turn around again to see me. He just sort of exited everything. My life included. And that was it.
I didn’t call or write. I didn’t know how. I remembered feeling like a hundred rats were crawling on my skin, on my face. It felt like the uncomfortable type of fear. The one that you never know if you’re going to get bit…
He never called either. Which is a good thing absolutely. I would have probably told him about everything that happened in my head the moment he didn’t say goodbye, or the time I helped a homeless man when I was in London. It would have all come spewing out.
Those are thoughts not words. They’re better left inside of a brain, too numb to think twice about responding.