In the evening courtyards of a beautiful city in Sicily, I surrendered my appetite. I discovered the crush of a ripe tomato, and I did so with my fingers before my tongue. I’m sure I was not the first to pick up the secrets of Syracuse tomato sauce in the dark. When I finally consumed it, licking my lips of tomato and wine, it was like kissing the hand of everyone at the table. Read more →
The big comb is ocean-colored, made of hard plastic. There’s a photo, somewhere in our apartment, of me, aged eighteen months and in a diaper, holding the comb in my tiny hand, my hair a forest from birth. This comb is, apparently, a family heirloom, like the dining table with the paint flecks and peeling glaze, and the full-length mirror. My grandmother used this comb in my mother’s hair, and my mother used it in mine. Read more →
The first fire escape was developed in 1784 by Englishman Daniel Maseres: a rope, attached to a window, anchored to the ground with a heavy wooden platform from which one flee from a burning ledge. In 1877, R.H. Houghton created knots tied into a rope to create a flimsy mock ladder. Then Philadelphian Anna Connelly invented the iron fire escape bridge in 1887, which connected buildings to each other, allowing those in a burning structure to safely hop over to the next. Read more →
Kitsilano – Summer 2015: The small plain stucco box of a house has little Kitsilano charm; unlike other houses in this Vancouver neighbourhood, with their gabled roofs, bright wooden shingles and Craftsman detail. Drawn white blinds neatly cover the windows, indifferent to the street’s colourful gardens and diverse canopies of trees. Though there are solid new trellises rising above the backyard fence—someone in residence making improvements, intending to stay put. Read more →
I could smell the cigarette smoke before I could see him. A few steps closer, and I could see the shadow of his cane.
He sensed me coming through the trees. Before I could say anything to him, my grandfather said, “Be quiet. Stand Still. Listen carefully.”
So I stood still, quite aware that I could not be as still as him. When my grandfather decided to be still it was as if he had subtracted his body from the air.
I listened. I could hear my grandfather drawing on the eternal cigarette in his mouth. Read more →
In naps, I dreamed of shins—of shins tilting up hills, of uphill climbs, of an uphill that endured until it tipped into downhill. In mud, I thought of water. Crossing water, I thought of stones. During the grand rain, streams were called rivers, and rivers were called floods. The water rebelled past the lines the tree roots had drawn for it. It spread past the edges of bridges, and in one forest, a fallen tree seemed a safer crossing than the footbridge. More than many things, I feared slipping a foot into wetness. The river rocks that you must hop across could be covered in slick moss, or your backpack could topple you. And if your socks soak themselves, how will they ever dry in this rain? Walking with wet feet equals blisters, and you can’t stop walking yet.
I don’t feel love for my daughter Zoë right away. I feel a tightness in my stomach. She thrashes in the car seat, shrieks in the stroller, screams in the swing, and generally hates to sleep. I bounce her and pace for hours in a dark room. I leave her alone howling in her crib; in my own bedroom, I scream into a pillow so loudly that the back of my throat burns, and I pound on the wall so hard the paint cracks. Then I rush back and scoop her up, shattered with guilt at her terrified wails. I’m sure I am the worst mother, especially when it takes all of my remaining emotional strength to fight the urge to pin her against the mattress. Read more →
Your espion, your spy. Under cover of skin, darkness and duvet, it observes the moonlight streaming through the window of the root cellar, the ratty notebook and the thick pencil stained with olive oil, how you cope with the punishment by writing about the lone donkey baying outside. It measures the heat of the desert, the warmth of the sea, the depth of the snow, the thickness of the ice. It registers the bruises on your shoulders, the scars on your wrist, the tremor in your hand, the house on your back.
When I was seventeen some dude and his friends came running at me holding a small woven pouch that looked just like mine. “There’s $60 in there. And your pipe. And a bag of weed. And I think some hash or something. And it looks like half a dozen tabs of acid.” He shook his head. The isolated concert hall had been filled with smoke and flashing, strobing lights and terrible music for some time now. Dragged to my first rave, I had found a decent people-watching space with a friend as we waited for our ride to take us away from the brackish air and chill of the salt flats. The dude kept his arm outstretched, the pouch—my pouch—presented in his palm, ready for me to take back. He had a jester hat on and his friends were piled in bright colors and patterns and grinning faces. I took back my pouch and said thanks. Remembered that some minutes or hours earlier the jester had asked if I had a pipe to borrow and I’d handed over the pouch and shrugged. Read more →
Eating a baguette with hummus and chutney on my IKEA futon that is no longer in production, I think of my mom, dad, and sister, who are moving into a smaller house, still in the suburbs of Coquitlam. They’ve made several trips to IKEA and Winners in the past few weeks, sometimes unnecessarily. But I don’t make a fuss, because they’re happy. Things aren’t extremely difficult for what might be the first time in our lives. Read more →