Alison Strumberger

An Inheritance

My mother gave me a place
I never learned to love.
Instead I stole it, carried it with me
in limbs and luggage
and lost it somewhere
perhaps on a sun dappled bench
at a point between Barcelona
and Byron Bay.

I ring her fortnightly
to retrace my steps.

In 1974 my mother drove a fern
from Montreal to Vancouver
in a Datsun
misted it at the gas stations
and took the corners gently
as its reach filled space with limbs
between the luggage,
as its terra cotta anchored it
to a moving thing.
Twenty-four years later
it died in the sunroom
and I shoved my pockets
full of place and time and
left by boat.

Now, I mist my fern
with less diligence than she,
terrified it will live
a quarter century.

I can’t help but nurture weeds.
The volunteer in my ficus
is aimless, though
there is a desperation in its climb
as it curls around the stalk
are you my mother?

Alison Strumberger is the co-author of Redrafting Winter (BuschekBooks, 2015). Her writing has appeared in publications such as Arc Poetry Magazine, Branch Magazine, The Big Issue, Cordite, Headlight, Kill Your Darlings, Sleepers Almanac, Soliloquies and Translating Horses (Baseline Press, 2015). She studied creative writing and English literature at Concordia University, and holds an MA in writing and editing from the University of Melbourne. Originally from the west coast, she now lives in Toronto. @AStrumberger