Volume 14 of Aphrodite's Garden: 1992 February-September  work & days: a lifetime journal project  














Luke is living with me. Louie is jealous of Rob and threatens to go off with Michael; a lot of hideous wrangling results in large investigation for both of us. Part 1 many notes gathered from Dames rocket journals. Part 2 a concert of Mennonite music. Part 3 BC Cultural Fund film jury. Part 4 Louie and I go on a three-week camping trip through Alberta and Saskatchewan. A night at Rumsey wheel. Part 5 we live for a cold week in the Valhalla house I lived in with Jam and drive home through the BC interior.

Notes: Lewis Thomas, Tarthang Tulku, A spirit uncertain of its appearance notes, Peter Redgrove The black goddess and the unseen real, Krishnamurti, A.S. Byatt Possession, Die Stillen im Lande concert of Mennonite music, Anne Rice Beauty's punishment (I think it was), Blake, Spencer Brown, Virginia Woolf on Rebecca West, Quine Word and object, Di Brandt, Lars von Trier Europa, gender effects of hormones, stone circles, Halliday Introduction to functional grammar, Ken Burns The civil war, a BBC oceanography film.

Mentioned: Luke, Rowen, Louie E, Michael Voskamp, Jam Ismail, Cheryl S, Joyce Frazee, Rob Mills, Peter Epp, Rhoda Rosenfeld, Trudy Rubenfeld, Robert MacLean, Mary Epp, David Carter, John Suderman, Andrew Irvine, Ray Jennings, Laiwan, Terry Power, Paul Kinsella, Karen Pike, Dana Claxton, Loretta Todd, Tom Braidwood, Katherine Sharp, Kevin Frazer, Walter Quan, Sylvia Duccheschi, Dan Tetrault, Muggs Siggurgeirson, Bob Sarti, Joann Hochu, Ingrid Pincott, Anne Dyck, Harvey Dyck, Lieb Loots, Gordon Campbell, Paul Grant, Rudy Wiebe, Tony Nesbit, John Tofteland, Peter Epp, Peter von Tiesenhausen, Elizabeth Grey, Jim Finch, Ed Epp, Roy Chisholm, Paul Epp, Judie Bopp, Jean Waite, Wende Davis.

David Barsamian, Lis Rhodes, Jung, Wittgenstein, Cantor's transfinite number theory, Mary Lutyens, Ursula Le Guin, Dorothy Richardson, Doris Lessing, Margaret Whitford, Martha Nussbaum, Mary Tiles on Bachelard, Hypatia, Ken Loach Riff-raff, Vancouver Chambre Choir with Jon Washburn, Clearbrook Mennonite Brethern Church, Trapline, James Wings of the dove, The courage of Lassie, BC Cultural Fund, The diary of Virginia Woolf vol 3, Roethke, Pribram Languages of the brain, Maeve Binchey, open house at Strathcona Community Garden, Vancouver Sun, Sylvie Frechette in the summer Olympics, the Edmonton Journal, Alice Walker, Lis Rhodes, Stanley Spencer, I never promised you a rose garden, Little women, Eight cousins.

824 E Pender St, Hong Kong Cafe, Golden Horse Cafe, Station Square, Shaughnessy, Kitsilano, the Westin Bayshore, Belzberg Library, Nyingma Institute, UBC, SFU, Stanley Park, MacDonald's on Main, Locarno Beach, Prior St, Carnegie Centre, Malkin St, the Karoo, Second Narrows, Nighthawk, Tonasket, China Bend on the Columbia, Paterson, Kettle Falls, Wardner outside Cranbrook, the Rockies, Pendant d'Oreille Cemetery, the Cypress Hills, Grasslands National Park, Drumheller, Val Marie, Manyberries Saskatchewan, Cypress Hotel and Charlie's Café in Eastend Saskatchewan, Jack's Café, Rumsey Alberta, Three Hills Alberta, University Hospital in Edmonton, La Glace Alberta, Buffalo Lakes, Seven Lakes Motel in Hythe, Valhalla Centre Alberta, the York Hotel in Grande Prairie, Sexsmith, the Dawson Hotel, Dave's Hard Times Café, the Billy Barker Hotel in Quesnel, Williams Lake, Alkali Lake, Dog Creek, Lillouet.

 5th March Golden Horse café

Which of all the ways to tell the story. Dames rocket. The acceleration in women's minds when they release their erotic interest in each other.


Luke gets up early these sunny mornings, I hear him stepping back and forth quietly. Before he leaves I smell the toast. Are his footsteps going downstairs? Yes, very lightly. The door closes.


She says he wants his mother to love him but she competes with him. I say he can have anything he wants, why should I give him that. She says do you want more life and pleasure? Then you have to give up heavy bitterness. I say if I stop being mad at big goodlooking men I'll be a sitting duck. She says, I know you think that.

Talking to the cards a joy when they say there'll be a dark friendly young man. Well it only means I'll be in touch with that net in my base. But it means I'll be in touch with love, and not in a displaced way, not desperately or hopefully or hopelessly. I'll find another strategy for love unaccepted (than to refuse it in me).


She has something to say. She's figured out what it was about the letter. When she says only part of it there's still a snarl. She says the whole of it and there's that instant lightening of the air that gives us into inspired intimacy. We look at his letter together. The first time through I have inklings. They're just markers, something here about rope, an awkward repetition marking something here, this paragraph is about birth, I'll read back in the light of that. I say, second time through, as I'm approaching that para, He's not getting close to his birthday is he? Yes, why. I'll tell you in a minute. And then I show her the clues. But what's this guy doing in the womb with him before he's born - a guy with safari shorts long socks and brown shoes, who shows him to the place in the basement where the tiger has eaten the man. Oh!!! That's the man his mother was having an affair with, he's a minister, who'd dress like that too.

And then I light candles, turn off the overhead, invite her to the big chair and tell her the story of the avocado seed. And what do I see, telling it. It's in the light of the man being held down, and why animal soul in a woman would have the image of a man. Are babies addicted to their father before they're born? A pre-oedipal father.

Saturday 28th

Thinking about cleaning up emotional foundations.


The sort of dispute where I'm clamped forward over my solar plex or have my hand clamped over my eyes speaking from black solitude. Obviously I am impossible. The way I turn off and on. Obviously I control. They say it's bad and I think it's bad but it's better to control than to not be able to be with people at all. This in the greenhouse because the breeze is cold outside it. What happens then. She says it's enough. I'll help dig her square.

Run home because I'm going to a movie with Luke. Luke's forgotten it's Saturday. Rush back to the garden, it's dark now, but her jacket still moving there in the far middle. She's reverted tho', she's in that exhausted beleidicht mind where I'm simply altogether wrong. I won't stay for this. Then she runs after. The frogs sounding in a mass as big as the pond. Stand waiting beside the car. "I'm out of it now" she says. "I pulled a plate up in my abdomen. It was wobbling before."

We're in her room sitting on the carpet. I'm very strung out, how is she. Okay now. Something fixes me. (What?) We go to Riff-raff. I know she'll like it. It will be a pleasure to show her Loach.

Then is it lying in bed talking about enemies. The movie has fixed us both. An enemy is someone who wants to kill your talent, who doesn't care that it's decreasing the sum of intelligence in the world. "That's my morality, I want there to be more talent in the world." When I say that I have a spark of tears. I want other people to want my talent like that.

And here is what I left out: my enemies without wanting it or caring did raise my talent.

6 April

The painted plates, carpets, art books, studio portraits, grossly accreted walls, thickly miscellaneously figured windows and floors. "Do you have relatives with houses like this?" "Yes I have relatives with houses like this." "Do they make you desperate to get out of them?" "Ellie is rather mean sometimes," says my mum.

A house like that is a machine for fixing consciousness. "We're rich, we're a family" it says all day long (we're a royal family say the double front door, audience chamber and towering stair). And something else - this is difficult to say - the house is engineered to be a net of crossing lines that fix the people in it - I see steel wires coming off the painted plates - it's like a trap with death rays - I'm hesitating between saying something I think I know and discovering something more interesting. I'm not sure of more than the intense desire to escape. The perceptual stupidity of a painting of a young girl with flowers. The ignorance of the garden where no plant is chosen for its quality though he feels himself a loving gardener.

What do I know about the consciousness of those who live there. What is it Louie and Michael know, and Rob knows in plants, and they're blind in.


Die Stillen im Lande. A lovely title. The chamber choir couldn't begin to get it right. The thin studied sound. Mennonite music was a surrounding mass, plain and strong - layers of interval perfectly firm moving inside its dark body. The Mennonites did not compose. Did not study vision, language, motion, character. But their music was democratic - Reformation music - every soul in its kind, at its level, skilled and able in building the temple of the moment. The temple is not internal, it is collective and physical but at the same time it is not material. The church is plain, the music inside it is a passionate mobile architecture in which each soul can know itself divine, divine because its longing is so beautiful.

Anne Rice's pornography in the bookstore before the show - Beauty's longing for the master. It's very direct, inflammation at the thought of mastery. The astonishing depth of real sex. How cautiously it's skirted: the way they look, the way they dress. The way they sat through the hideous concerto without protest. Their thickness. The rigidity of their hair. The affable familiar Germanish greetings amongst themselves. Prosperous clothes on the old women, shoulder pads. An audience of people my folks' age. I see that amongst them my mom would seem quick and elastic.

In the light of Anne Rice the hymns are looking remarkable. Long my heart hath panted / Till it well-nigh fainted / thirsting after thee. Gottes Lamm, mein Bräutigam. So pain gladly bear / From the Lord's tender care / Streams of bliss and renewal are flowing. O kindle, Lord, most holy / Thy lamp within my breast / To thee in spirit lowly / All that may please thee best. So nimm denn meine Hände / Und fuhre mich - that one was really beautiful, it was Oma, I was crying - Bis an mein' selig Ende / Und ewiglich / Ich kann allein nicht gehen / Nicht einen Schritt / Wo Du wirst gehn und stehen / Da nimm mich mit. The love in that, like a married love. And the one about the rifted rock, Now I'm resting, sweetly resting / In the cleft once made for me. Unter deinem sanften fittich / Find' ich frieden, trost und ruh / Denn du schirmest mich so freundlich / Schützest mich und deckst mich zu.


What is there more to know about being a child in a culture that spiritualized sado-masochism. Are the kids more eroticized. Is power eroticized. Is sex set in a form it wouldn't have otherwise. Or is there a form given to something that would be there, but derelict, otherwise.

Reading Anne Rice with Louie in mind too. Is she a bottom because she hasn't seen through the nature of her own sexuality and so can't see mine? Am I fighting her to sophisticate her or to ruin her? Should we take it further. "The ego is literally a fearful thought." Sez a Christian book. When does fear know best. In Anne Rice there is a symmetry in the game, it's not gender segregated or class segregated, slaves are princes, masters can be fucked, whippings alternate with tenderly equal kisses, townspeople can for 15 cents ass-fuck a girl who in six months' time will be a queen, sexual vulnerability is all-day naked in the streets, pain and humiliation, coldness and willfulness are not forbidden but mined, the utterest vulnerability the most valued resource. And am I on the devil's side when I see their Christian passion as infant eroticism? (Jesus would see it too.) Is there a way to be saved away from its fixations into knowledge of the existing universe, other than going into it observantly? Anne Rice writes it as spiritual adventure, which I also know it to be. My question is whether having let myself go all the way into being a bottom I can be willing to let myself go all the way into being a top. And what's that. It's being willing to take responsibility for taking her as far as she can go. It's Easter Sunday.

The way sado-masochism is institutionalized there, its style.


These beautiful days working. It doesn't rain long, the sun comes out, I take an hour in the garden, congee in the Golden Horse, and sit with my sheets feeling sometimes a mind finely enough partitioned so I can see thru' from area to area. Happy.

1st May

What else lightened it (some) - touching myself - had a fast fine lingering cut - that doesn't say what it was - sweet lick of fire in the midst of endurance I don't know how to describe - old endurance. When she phoned me I had my head laid on its side on the floor, filled up with the silence of shock. "Where are you?" "I've been in such a death ." (She was brisk compared.) A death zone. Just to have been reminded what it's like there. "There has to be another thing." I couldn't think what that would be but I saw or felt a thinner transparent spirit as if in our chests. "It's quieter - yes."


The puzzle I go on unendingly with, is, what is the relation between 'openness' and death, and 'closedness' and prosperity?


Corner of the table taken with 20 kinds of roses.

Rowen on Sunday night. He phones wanting to stay over. I'll take him out somewhere - MacDonald's drive-thru - then west on Second Ave till (I think it will) it takes us to the beach west of town, Locarno.

Holiday weekend, six o'clock ivory light from sun already northwest and veiled. The city down the bay in the other direction, towers at the river's mouth. Freighters. Mountain ridges sorted backwards, paler as they're higher. Luke up there among them.

Rowen making a fort, "Help me make this, come on, come on," busy ecstatic by the sea. First a square of wall with a door toward the tide, then a moat scribed around. I'll give plants and a seaweed banner ("What's a banner?"). Now we have to get wood for the walls, they're to reinforce the next packing of sand. A dog is chasing sticks, Rowen too, he's putting a square of long boards around the whole fort. The wet dog dashes through and scoops one away. It's because the tide is rising he's added the stockade. Then he wants to run up the shore. By now he's taken off his shoes. Will you roll up my pants? He's looking for a log to ride, that he can hook in with his stick. So absorbed he doesn't know he's joyful. By the time I say we're turning back he's in the water to his waist, paddling with his stick, just the alternating dip, just the forward glide, of a kayak.


In my dream crying I think because of writing, or because of not deciding what to do. (I'm here in the glitter and stir of the garden. It's messy and rich, warm wind, leaves scratching, a martin floundering across, skirl of fledglings, train at the Prior St crossing. It's a dry color-fading light running water is pleasant in. The strike of a hoe, rattle of ma jong tiles. Valerian and buttercup in the orchard. Fiery heat on the forehead. A robin on a tall stake stares south, leaves it swinging when he jumps away. Young man with his lunch in a bag coming happily to the apple tree bench. Motors at the produce warehouse. Blackbird dipping her beak into the long tank. Bees in the comfrey.) What is it about writing - could I know? What's happened this week is I've dodged away from writing the thesis proposal. But in it I'll be happy - ie in philos.


I was watching Karen and Loretta's method. We had a voting bloc. Three of five wasn't enough to get anyone in but it was enough to clear a lot of projects out of the list. O smart Loretta. And I was smart to nod her into the chair between me and Karen. In the last battle when we were trying for Claxton there came the moment when by obstinate persistence, by stopping dead, we'd got Jeremy to suggest reprioritizing from Maylone down - we'll look at those five applicants again, support material, budget, proposal. Why don't we just go through it, mutters Loretta. I pat my face without looking at her. Saving face? (Hisses, after a minute.) I nod. Who? I point with my chin. Ray? Nod. I look at her, she's rolling her eyes. What a comprehensive impious person she is, flexible, she'll vote for Cummins though his eye is dust, because his method will be alright for that old couple on a boat.

What really interested me was her method with opponents, easy friendly eruptions. Karen's method too, you give them little personal pats betweentimes to keep the air from tightening up, and then when you want something you just keep coming. When one woman stops there's a considering pause and then another woman will start. I'd say the worst sometimes and then Loretta would say something wise and generous that nonetheless rounded off to a no. She's not polite though. Neither she nor I could help cutting Ray off whenever he spoke, there was so little personal life in his voice that we couldn't hear it.

Both the men on the jury my height, eyes at eye level, an interesting sensation. Ray fifty? Sixty? Red-faced with the bursting look of high blood pressure. Small light eyes. Alcohol and very stupid sensuality was my guess. Lonely, never taken personally, but proud of who he knows, loyal to his kind and hanging onto the young like Lisa Binkley who'll go along with it. Tom not clear to me, a nice straight body and a froggish not-closed face with long dipping corners on his mouth. Liked to throw himself into the machinery. What mystified me was how he'd go blank and turn away if I said anything to him outside deliberations.


Today it's softly weak and sad. She says she won't go that way with him. What she says has so different a sound from what he says. I feel beaten. Not angry. Not in fierce pain but abject. Like lying down underfoot. There is also a curious tickle like a little tendril of a current under the dejection, which is like laughter.


The herb garden. E veramente una cosa. Its splendor's in the north end now. Seven foot mullein in the corner, hemlock frothy white, a loose toss of color corner to corner. Gobo flowered-out inconspicuously in burrs eight feet up. Russian olive silver-willowy in pink valerian foam. Orange daylilies craning on the green wild wall. Lavender's outburst at the sill. Lichkönigen pouring out more and more long whips that end in smoothest buttercup yellow high on the post. Blackspot victims recovered. Opium poppies' clear mauve here here and there. Claret great burnet. Scabious. Alkanet.


Louie last night met in the last light in the garden (near-by blue spikes in almost black) tells a story (while we sit under the windshield on Malkin) of her week at work. Complete attention to the students, letting them take control, not supporting them by eyes or posture. It slows down frighteningly. And then a group mind forms, as if a cloud they're all under. They learn things in a way that integrates them directly, uses them immediately. And: she doesn't feel lonely in it, not any longer a lonely intelligence. Goes home strong.

Waking this morning with solar and womb working (whatever it is - frightened, I think). Is it that Louie scares me all the time, somehow intensely scares me, scares me unaware, so I need the shelter of my two weeks.


Di Brandt on CBC this morning: "I realized that the difference between an occupied country and an unoccupied country is that in an unoccupied country the occupation has been completed." She said this in a voice giggling with fear.

Fri 19

If Louie and I at 3 years are at an oedipal point, what it sez is I have to be smarter overall because what's happening is I'm being deeply frequently frightened, and it's paralysis.

Is it something like this: that I'm risking with Louie a mother-bond that I've done without since I was two, and it threatens to undo me to the foundation.

In fact I was thrown to the wolves just at the time when (it's said) girls are figuring out how to live in the conflict of sex and love.

Okay if I put that much together,

1. pride refuses the father and unstably insists on mother
2. and mother is a terrible danger of undoing

then there's a conflict with both poles refused, which means inaction. My strategy has been to try accepting both poles in limited ways, denaturing them partly.

Saturday 20th

Pribram's book is going to bring me to the core of what I've been skirting these years in secret. I am going to take it on, take on the math and electronics and come out with another shape to think with.


The physician was a man eating lunch at the table in the garden while the work party was on yesterday. Young wife, girl baby naked in the tank, mother and aunt. Their sharp cautious faces, the wife's thick fertile hair, say Jewish. I'm on my way through from boat building in the kid's area. He's staring. I ignore him. A minute later they're behind me on the path. I pick up the brick pounder to get it off the path. Be careful carrying that, the nails are loose, he says. Okay I say and carry it to the top of the vine walk, set it down. He's telling me again, The nails are coming out, it could fall on your foot. I got it, I say, but annoyed, not looking at him. What does he want. He explains again, one syllable words. I'm saying to the wife, Why don't I just move this. Haven't liked to see the wet naked baby near the live cord. I'm flipping the cord further on, ignoring him. He tries again. I GOT IT! I say still not looking at him. He carries on explaining about the nails. There he stands and I let fury carry me. This is interesting. I stand staring into his face. Pale blue eyes with rings. Eye level. Do you have some kind of need to patronize women?! It has nothing to do with gender, I didn't want - . You wouldn't know if it did, I say, noticing my voice has a shake in it, furious. I didn't mean to offend you, I'm a physician and I didn't want to have to fix you up. This word 'physician' always riles me. You're a physician and I'm a feminist and I know things you don't, take it from me. I liked that, because it's to the point, he does think he knows more than I do about anything. He isn't going to win this one, I have battle fire going. He starts again to explain. Just take it from me, I say. Then he stops. His wife, aunt and mother have been invisible making of it whatever they must. Danny and Michael presumably embarrassed thinking this woman is flipping over nothing.

I had it in suspense until I could tell Louie, because I knew there was no one who'd see a true cause.


The open house. A moment in the herb garden, on social automatic turning from one to another. Suddenly a familiar face I take an instant to recognize - a straight close gaze out of a broad youngish face, a real human. Oh it's you, I say. Him, the mayor. Well if he can be real so can I. Partly. No time to get behind myself. Do I show him stuff. The pineapple sage. Get him to smell his hands. He doesn't have time to get behind himself either but he's not bad. His private project is something on senses in the city. You go home at night and write things down, you mean? Yes.

Through the afternoon faces arriving, women gardeners I recognize right away and smile at, keen private faces.

Something political going on. The event marked something. Very astute publicity, two pieces in Saturday's Sun. Five, six, seven hundred people. People pouring through, buying little plants, six deep around Rob, groups of ten in tours three minutes apart. News crews.

Louie watching the kids' area telling me how solidly it was handling crowds. It holds the kids in a calm water-trance, adults and kids trade around on the boat-platform, grownups sit on it eating, then kids take it back to jump off. Politicians chose the height of land at its stern to speak from. The bench separates people staying still from people moving, is an edge where they can decide to sit down each on their own side. The table's on the edge of the center.

Yesterday we saw how many people it can gather and disperse. It works intelligently as our agora. Our bureaucrats don't know it tho', or the psychologies of vinewalk and final pool, or the way the long path brings people around back on the flank of the grass orchard so they'll see it from a safe shore, or the side spill into greenhouse and nursery's yard, put where you can see it from the path and come in further only if you know what you're looking at.

Our platform is two grassy bellies. That's quite good.


Last night he phoned, hadn't talked to anyone about Sunday. "Do you want to do something tomorrow night?" I say. "What do you want to do?" Embarrassed, laughing: "The usual I guess, unless there's something else you want to do. Can you?" "I can tomorrow but not by the weekend." He's ready to say 'bye, then. His voice has a private happiness in it. Not communicative, I mean, it's for himself.

I'm warned not to praise him. On Sunday I was taking care not to be seen with him. When he phones and she's here I'm frightened of the sound of my voice and cut him short. He's never whined, demanded, campaigned, or sulked. He's glad when it's his turn and has other things to do when it isn't. He's patient. And not cut off, he still opens his chest to me and calm light comes out.


Last night walking out of the house my stomach grinned: I don't have to spend another minute in this. On the way to the car I felt an instant of summer night.

Today she smiled with her mouth shut and was beautiful. It's those teeth it seems that make me feel I'm in bad danger.

A Sunday. We were under the vines. She can hear the worst of everything in my journal and still gleam. Yesterday the moment when I knew to put my arms around her and hug her tight. Whenever she's like this it's only that she wants me to love her, it said in me.

When I hear the real story of a crumble, the parts of it that are visionary, beyond knowing, frightened, I'm interested. But I can't see it if she doesn't tell me, I see a brat demanding I should feel something because she wants it.

Monday 20th

If an older woman and an overwhelmed girl go together into a night room whose walls dissolve, sit back to back on a rug, call down a hawk who cuts figures above them, and becomes one being, fear, fearlessness and decision - if, at the door they have asked to be useful to intelligence - and then if that one being writes -

The invention of the story thrills me. Takes me to where I can remember my frightened time. I think I know what I'm doing. It's telling me again the myth Louie is. Why she loves me when I write. It's also the story of Jam and Ellie and of Them, grey hawk and deep kid.

It's selfconscious tho'. I say I'm doing this to build a state, it's an invocation.


Getting a glimpse of a point where I got stopped - screen - grain - overlay.

I don't understand - the winter pages - Louie had a welling of tears after, she said because of the person listening in them - she went to a reading at Western Front and sat alone halfway up - Jam asked how she was and she said lonely for a friend, "someone who'd hate this as much as I do."

"There's a real spark between you and Ellie" said Joyce. The seriousness and innocence with which she read and wrote letters that winter, happy and sexy. Her smile up from her head on her arms. Her eyes and the corners of her mouth.


Deer, hawk, little snake so subtle there was a moment when I cdn't see whether it was there or whether it had just been there.

Foothills. Dry and wet. It's earlier summer here say the flowering plants, but the Rockies are naked in their stripes and blocs of velvet: washed-out pink, tan, purple, orange.

Dry and wet visibly on the slopes. Cropped dryland forb like deer skin over waterless old muscle, and in the cracks wooly dark green, scrub poplar. Sometimes a soak with reeds and mint.

The architecture of campanula, 'bluebell': ribbed. As if the world's the outcome of a painter's calculation: I'll set loose these silver-greens, these dark greens, these small dark blues, bright yellows, whites, tans, in these material kinds, and they'll organize themselves into perfection.


Kinds of misery. On the first day an anguish I wasn't given a reason for (but it sang it hurts to be in love this way). It was maybe anguish about the journey, its danger. Second day terror about the car, not knowing whether the brakes are okay, being responsible on the mountain. Since then tension about sex, stupid discussions. The times I'm uneasily fretting about her lack of physical sense, the way she cut cheese, dipped a greasy bowl into the wash water, left the keys in the trunk. Knowing it's something else, but what. Like men's irritability when they work with women. The way it releases me to yell and made her weep for an hour rolling through green fields without trees to the horizon. It's power differential, but what is that. What was it with Jam, since this is its reciprocal - it was that her consciousness interested me more than mine interested her. Louie's consciousness is likely more interesting than mine but her talking relation to it is not.

Here I went to the story of grey hawk and deep kid and how she smiled with her shiny eyes and mouth corners the day before. (There she is by the tent thinking words whose final syllables are pulled shut like little purses: mos kee tow.)

What is to do with hate? ("Hatred after loving days. Smoke blew downwards.")

It's wonderful here. Where the cliff is cut it shows nothing but sand, no rock.

I should say what's forbidden: what I'd like about traveling with a man. The privacy and objectivity. Him looking after the car. The way it's not at an angle to childhood. Dependable sex. Short frets. Being the girl and not in this way something verging on a father. My father is not a father to be.

It's a soft word - like feather - "both hands to its warm feathers."

What happened last night. I don't know how their bodies think they're going to get a baby out of it! I said about lesbians, furious, when she said how swollen and ready she'd found herself.

She brought it up: "I don't understand the anger." I tell her what makes me angry. Telling it I'm angry again. I'm compressed like a blade from side to centre down the length of my body.

I say she hasn't found the core fantasy in her sex. She has the feeling but keeps a veil over its content. I'm as if cornered and she's pressing, pulling at me with hypnotic touches that make me rigid with resistance.

How did I find the core fantasy. By fighting with Jam. I'm aware I'm sounding like Jam. What I have in mind to say but don't, is how Jam in the end didn't want to touch me anymore because there's never any baby. I don't have Jam's end of the fantasy, it's more as if I know how to impersonate sexual fathering because I know the quality of what I want. But I have no heart for it, in the end I resent her falling for it because my fantasy is nowhere in it. I needed the experience of competence but there's nowhere for it to go, sexually. Is that true? As if Jam's complaint that there was no baby was a complaint that she never got to her own infant bliss.

(This is a new turn. What's that relation between being a baby and having one. What's the division of responsibility between being willing to be the baby and being willing to look after a baby. Here I heard T, "It's Cheryl's turn to be the baby.")

In a way I was being the baby and she was outside me, rigid with resistance the way babies can be. "I'm being careful not to let you hurt me, because you're in something where I think you're very hurt." At that I quit. It was true I seemed to be hurt, the compression said so, and she was right to take care, but that's as far as it could go. I shut up. She said, This is as low as you can get. A moralistic habit that spoils her concentration. It might have been close to my lowest but to take it indignantly was a misreading. Time to quit for the night.

I go out to pee and see large clear stars. Lie down and hear her wanking juicily. Yes that's what we need. I think my mother was baffled by anger and withdrawal. I seem to expect it.

3rd August

Yesterday there were wide light brown roads raised like platforms, fenced corridors through extents of brome grass, clover, young wheat, shortgrass prairie without trees to the horizon. The car slogged through gravel leaving a powder of soft brown in the air behind it and on the dishes in the trunk. There were sometimes farmsteads with stunted caragana and some larger tree.

Outside one of these the rotted tailpipe went and I heard what I knew was the muffler dragging on gravel. There'll be a man in that farmhouse with baling wire and a wire cutter. Two dogs, farm dogs, not worried. It's Sunday dinnertime. A fat little boy at the front door screen. "Is your dad here?" "He's sleeping." The woman's a while arriving. Through the door a mattress leaning on the wall, a dark room with a television screen. She's a type, young for three kids, trashy, glasses, white and squishy. "My husband'll look at it for you." The front door won't open. "Come to the side -" "My dad's awake now!" The little fat boy is proud of his information. A tall man old enough to be her father, putting his cap on over a damp naked forehead with the farmer's line between red and white.

"I know farmers have to sleep on Sundays." I'm apologizing for being too ignorant and unequipped to fix my own muffler. He doesn't reply. Strides out quickly ahead of us. Broad hips, low jeans like many farming men when they're older. Neck forward. Kneels on the gravel to peer under the trunk. Sees what can be done. When he comes back with wire and wire cutter his mood has changed. "We were lucky it happened here," I say. "Further east it's quite dezolate, it can be thirty miles between places." It's his first full sentence, an accent surprisingly soft. What's it a trace of? I can't tell, but it makes him look younger.

He lies on his back in the gravel and wriggles under. It's a tight fit. I lie down too, forward of the tire. "If you want a hand with anything just say." I see I can hold up the muffler while he gets the wire around it. He winds the wire, cuts it, ties on another strand.

"Are you going through to Saskatchewan? I wouldn't go through too many big towns before I took this to a muffler shop. It'll hold but there's some give at the other end. It'll run a bit louder without the tailpipe."

We're standing behind the car. I know the formalities. "Can we give you something, for - ?" "Oh, no, no." "Well thanks a lot."

There we still stand. I like his speech and want to hear more. "How are your crops this year? How's the weather been?" He's willing to tell. "We didn't get any rain until a month ago. The wheat didn't start coming until then. It's coming good now but wheat needs ninety days. We'll have to get to the end of September without frost. Some years we do and some we don't." "The grass is looking good now." "All that's come up since the rain. Before that there was nothing. I had forty cows on four and a half quarters and they couldn't find enough to eat. Before I took them out to the community pasture I had to bring them in and feed them." And more: "The grass will cure and calves need the greengrass to put on fat. Oh they'll be alright but they won't have the weight."

We're standing in silence. "Good luck" I say awkwardly. He breaks into a smile so sweet and shy I've written this whole story in order to tell it. A cut to the heart.

And then more miles, thirty miles of these soft roads between hard fields. A white-painted community centre. A white school. Pendant d'Oreille cemetery a near-empty square framed in scrub caragana - the stuntedness of the caragana told me something precise about how much harsher it is here than at home - with a wrought-iron name-arch over the gate. A dozen and a half graves, two with scrub lilac knee-high around the stone. Another stone had a hot little fore-space of bare earth, and from the grass beside it came a dry rattle that sounded once, listened, came again, listened, warned again, unmistakably a voice with an intent. That was thrilling.

And then closer to the Cypress Hills the beautiful dignity of dark brown unpainted farmhouses, small windowed boxes completely unsheltered in the plain. No tree, no barn, no shed.

At Manyberries the worst of what's left of that unremitting life, a café so bad it was like a visit to corruption. A fat woman proprietor with hateful eyes and servile set welcome, a grey-faced old woman in cowboy dress too drunk to remember the orders. Above the door a plaque: Thank you for allowing us the pleasure of serving you. Please come again soon. The cook apparently drunk too, "fried chicken" for $5.95 meant two dry wedges and a heap of roughly chopped old lettuce without dressing.


Eastend Saskatchewan. Cypress Hotel. Male giggles at the other end of the counter, Charlie's Café. "I'm happy it rained again." "How much'd you get?" "I got seven tenths, Les says he got too much!" Heh heh.

What we saw yesterday, hours of driving and nothing is ugly. Not much to say about those miles. Clover bales in the ditches. Stock comically deep in saskatoon scrub in a coulee. Wheat in combed carpet close-fitted and dividing over a curve, radiant emerald green. A yellow weed concentrated up against a curving edge where cultivation or weedkiller has cut it off sharp. The even slate blue of rain at a distance, what to call the way it stands earth to sky, not a stretch, not a fall, not a drift. And the way with nearer clouds I could look up into the complicated space among them, black white blue grey, stretched ripped edges, towering things carrying themselves heavily and airily, very unsimply.

Yesterday: I said we turned a corner. Her book spoke fearlessly. Such a thing, her book. To hear it and then see her fall into something like a dwarf demon of blame and self pity was making me believe the Buddhists, ego demands agreement with its complaints.

Monday 10th Drumheller

Yesterday's wind. On the other side of the Texas gate from the park, wheat is bounding away from the road. Barley comes clashing toward it, breaks into a froth of oats at the greengrass rim of the ditch. I have the heel of the super-8 camera balanced on the car roof. Bursts of wind toss me too.

Then outside Val Marie we go drunk with pleasure at the sweep of color up the ditch, alsike dark purple, white clover, foxtail, red dock in seed, and the centre band blazes yellow: prairie sunflower, gumweed, coreopsis ("common tickseed") and what's that dandelion-like one on tall stalks, with fescue froth. And after that something happens again. I'm very tired, is it. Writing is like pushing a weight. The many things I saw and haven't the energy to say. 'Cutting off.' There's life I have in my own company but the cost in tension all day.

Battery boiled and the right rear wheel had a scorched smell.

Valhalla 14th

The land is giving color after color. My friend next to me seeing it too. A dark blue storm we saw a long way off, lightning's minute on the horizon. Wanting a really wet rain. The road fuzzed-over with white vapor, later shone with the yellow of headlights. On the home road between Sexsmith and Buffalo Lake the sun got low enough to find a slot in the northwest and came through with rainbow, thunder sky, gold grass and supersaturated granary red. That doesn't say the white clover's wire and ripe red clover's rust in the ditch.


It's quiet. Caraganas allow nothing to grow under them, down their length there's often a corridor with a clean soft floor. The grass stands so deep - brome - fiery green blades, red-brown banners of seed swaying above the mass of blades in a separate second layer. Summerfallow clean and velvety showing airshimmer against its even nap. Fenceline with shapes of a thin cross-section of a grove. Saskatoon bush, like a poplar stand, has this year's top growth showing thin individual branch-shapes jutted out of a solid curve. Nettle. Raspberry. Flies. Squirrel's rattling footfalls in the house behind me. Fireweed's spent pink feathers with white fluff glistening at their base. The rolling grainy line of a motor traveling far away. The very dry light clacking of some insect under the caraganas. A quacking protest from the lake. Dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee says the little bird now hung upside down from a spruce finger. There's the car basking deep in grass. I found the pump handle somehow thrown off at a distance. Fireweed seeds release themselves and sail singly momentously against the light. A spider's wire holds tight between two blades and flashes a fine line. Was that a car turning on gravel. The way the chickadee dips in its flight. A moth. A breeze. A white-pink crescent of shine below the sun. Tiny cracks of caragana pod splitting and little rattle as seeds are flung against leaves. A bite in the sun. A powdered dark blue strip of ridge right across the north. And all of it together. Oh there a bird with wing-edges translucent falling toward the top of the spruce. Kee keee it says sharply from another place. Dead spruce to be cut down for firewood, willow die-back to be broken out. I have to hold myself in the strange fact of time, which is visible only in spots: in three verandah rails fallen out of the row, in the maturity of two poplars that were pretty kids. In the way the lake view has closed over. In my pigtail, and mostly in Louie's presence, anachronistic, like a vision of a future I don't believe. There is her mother's eiderdown on her bed made on the porch. I mean she is not real to me in the way the place is, tho' she's close-by: the anxiety in my throat.

Alright, what do I want here -

The night at Rumsey Wheel. Nearing sunset when we came, car left behind the dugout. We arrived separately over the other near hilltops checking them for stones. A rockpile at the crest of this farthest most likely one, with unheard-of poplar grove sprung from amongst the rocks. There's a fence square around the dome of the hill, but the wires are down in this corner, and in that one too. There are mosquitoes. Dry shortgrass stalks standing up singly out of dry lichen and moss in the horizontal light. The stones are pink - it isn't just the time of day. One of the poplars quite thick, tho' stubby, the rest babies. Dry raspberry canes. There's a clear ring, small rocks with upper faces showing from out of a depth of sod that has grown up to lap firmly around their bases. The ring is incomplete on the east side but here's a flat circle of stones. It's the effigy's head and there are the arms raised like the snake goddess's, and a bigger rock at the heart. A skirt or legs maybe, but disturbed. Parts of something sketched on the northwest.

In coming around again to the hot slope of pink rocks on the east I hear a loud electric buzz. This isn't esoteric but it might be. It's coming from the rocks. Two notes she says, a low one under the shiny shrill. It doesn't vary. It's like the sound of a hidden hive and I'm cautious. Is it these tiny wasp-like machines hovering almost inside the cracks between rocks?

I want to get the car before the light's gone, because of the cameras. Strong pink light and then fading. The farmer's son to deal with while she's free to move around. When he's gone every moment has to be taken. A surprising amount of light still on the slope facing west. A lichened pink rock glowing in its sad socket. Near it a larger grey one.

We have the near dark to wander separately in. The moon has risen in the southeast and is coming up behind the poplar clump. I see with love and recognition the deeply cut cowpaths making for water - the lines of buffalo and Indian with a common culture on the plane - cow tribe we watched passing in procession toward its night pasture, two nervy longhorn heifers, brindle, with beautiful faces, a young shorthorn bull trotting along oblivious to us, his nose stuck to a trotting cow's rear end, all of them walking with that short jerk upward of the muzzle with every step. Older cows alert, stopping to challenge us (it felt) with stares. They seemed to stand reading us with massive concentration. Yearling steers several together. Sometimes a cow with two calves of different ages. Families visible, red or pale creamy tan. Another bull, a heavy-headed Hereford. All with skeletons more visible since the dinosaurs of the morning.

I knew I must sleep alone at any cost. Made two piles of bedding fearing a wrangle. There wasn't one. We have to each pick our spots tonight. Where. Not certain how to decide. Toward sunrise? But dreamers face west. Oh - yes - by the rock that shone. But inside the circle? I try. It isn't right. Just outside it, feet downhill toward where the sun set. The good rock at left hand, head nearly on the ring. Make up the bed with wool jacket under.

Such a long way to see - we're the highest point in all directions. A hill far to the northeast, something, lights (Three Hills) on the southwestern edge. Single lights here and there on the rim, farm lights not town lights. It won't be dark, the moon's two days from full. Mosquitoes. Not too many. She's unfolding things in the sunrise direction (in the stream between the two buzzing clumps she says in the morning).

I lie down and pray. Urgencies. To settle the long struggle with them. To get clear with Louie. To work and have will. To not lose motion. For depth. (As if I shouldn't say these - why?) To be thinner.

Only the bright stars. The Dipper, the W, the Swan. When mosquitoes have gathered I cover my face with the sheet. Through it I see a bright streak. It's a meteor. I jerk off the sheet to look. The streak is still there - standing. A thin green line, vertical. Aurora in a form I've never seen. It fades.Then there's a band of the same pale green standing parallel to the horizon in the north. White meteors too.

I have moon shadow from the trees shaking over me. The rest of the land is bright moon day.

I dream it's dawn and a pickup drives up near the wire. People get out. In my dream it's hard to wake, like pulling myself from a depth, a long haul. Looking over my shoulder I'm surprised to see the visitors aren't men. Two young women are creeping around the other side of the hill hoping not to be seen. They came for some sort of dawn ritual, offering smoke, something similar. They're new-age-ish. I see the older woman's face quite clearly. She's following the other one back to the truck. Something awkward about their movement. I wake and it's deep night still. But a wind has come up, blowing from the southeast as if it's springing out of the grove. So clean and live a wind, warm, like a complete goodness. I want to lift my arms to it. I could lie on my pillow in this wind, in this light, sloped facing sky and earth, all night, peaceful and thanking. Stars fall. I see the sky has turned. The moon has come sideways out of the grove and I'm out in its uncolored day. Before dawn I see it sink very orange at a point out from the end of my left arm. I like that. And later when there's outer fire in the northeast it seems the sun will rise down past the end of my right hand.

She has another story. The most remarkable part is that she spoke to her book without the [physical] book. It said to her, five times, I love you. ("Did you see the moon?" she says to it. "I was there." "Are you the moon?!" "I'm the way you see it.")


Slept on the summerfallow east of the house last night. Warm. Often waking. Nothing hurt, it was like waking in warm water. Closing my eyes again. When I opened them on grass steeping into color I knew to look east. Hot transparent yellow. Clouds to catch it. At the cultivated edge the brome stands straight up in a brush: green, copper. Nothing moving. It's the copper that catches in this first light. And clouds so water-rich, belonging to so rich a country, deep fibrous things bluegrey and white with palest blue sleek behind them. That steep of ruby dawn in brome green and poplar green with dark bluegrey behind it, nowhere else. And the pink on poplar stems, and the sharpening of black shadow, when the sun is up. You friendly color god - I made the fire today and sang Gott ist die Liebe / Lest mich er-losen - Gott is die Liebe - er liebt au mich.


She feels me wanting to be alone and panics. "What does the panic say?" "That we'll never be able to work together in a room." "And what then?" "I'll never have it anywhere." "And what then?" "I'll never be my best self." "You'll never get to be it?" "No."

"Tell me a story about two women working in a room." "It's too close to the story I told you already." "No, make it like a fairytale." "Neither of these people are you or me. The one can write and the other can speak. The one who talks dances, has any lover she wants, men or women, is a body. Her weakness is that people can't see she's smart. She longs to have the means to show them. The one who can write likes books but not so much for the ideas as for their dry smell, their grain." "What does she do for a living?" "I don't want to tell you." "She's some kind of a scholar?" "She wouldn't say that. She's a writer." "What does she write?" "She's a poet." "She writes short dry pieces?" "Subtle." "How is she about sex? I suspect she's kind of chaste. She has a conflict." "In what way?" "You know." "I have no idea." "About men." "What makes the conflict?" "She's proud." "What else does she do?" "Music." "Plays it or listens?" "She plays the cello, she learnt it but there was interference from her principles." "Oh she's principled! (Laughing.) What kind of principles?" "Political, about class. But she plays." "What does she play?" "One note at a time, very simple. Classical." "More classical than classical maybe, Renaissance?" "She plays this." (Sings what sounds like Bach, with the strings stopped at the ends of the phrases.) "Can you give them names?" "The one who can write has a Greek name, it's Praxis." "That's wonderful." "The other one is Neara, n.e.a.r.a." "What do they want from each other? What are their weaknesses?" "Praxis loves Neara's body." "Doesn't she want to be a body herself?" "Don't bark up the wrong tree." "Alright, what does Neara want?" "You know." "When you say that it means you don't want to know for some reason." "I do know." "Not altogether maybe. What does Neara want?" "I'm tired of you having so much power." "Come on." "Neara wants Praxis to teach her how to write." "Teach in what way?" "To believe in her and support her." "Is it enough for her to just be in the same room?" "Maybe. And to read it after." "To be a confidence in the room?" "Yes."


"What sort of friend." "He wouldn't ignore it" (it tends to feel like he). "He can see everyone as beings, what it's like to be them, he'd see what it was like to be that. He'd see the perfection so he could see what's lost, he'd feel what I've lost, he wouldn't be thinking about it all the time but he'd feel it at least once. He'd be practical, he'd see when I was having a moment of shame and he'd take a practical attitude, psychically as well." "What would it have been like if you'd had such a friend when you were a child?" "Everything would have been different! I would have had someone to teach me how to run, how to play ball, how to handle myself, how to dress. What to do with people who only see that, what to do with people who pretend not to see it at all. How to resist the temptation to ignore it myself."

"If he saw me walking in a fantasy he'd see me walking the way I do walk."

This came from something this morning, she telling how her book talked to her about a vision from overhead here at the red and white house, onto fresh long grass. (Overview means insight it says.) "You are seen walking through, leaving a path. Then I follow." (It interrupts: You aren't following, look again.) "We alternate time after time leaving paths, making paths. Moonlight, an owl hoots from three directions." (It announces a death, it says.) "We are seen in speeded motion so we seem to be running around the fire in a ritual way. We stop and are in the frame together for the first time." (For the first part in this time, it says.) "That isn't the end: then we see the sky, night day night day flashing alternately, all the days and nights of the path-making."

She had a dream that's like the next part. Where the fireplace is, a table with two shoes flaming on it. I'm inside the house. A bellow of grief comes from me.

It says: the shoes are my red ones. Fire of passion not destruction. It's my grief of the day. She should stop walking in my shoes.

These frighten me. I take it to a fright I've announced before: she'll take everything I know and be it as a normal person not a lame one. What I've made to make me even with the rest will take her over the top.

I'm aware that I'm not convinced it's that but I should probably stick with it. There's some true bitter thing, I know from how I draw myself straight and sit on my heel. Walking back to check out of the hotel I see my shadow, the thin jerk of my hip, the way the little right side hangs and is flung.

We drive back. I've said I'll come back to it. We sit on the grass by the car where it's dry. I'm exasperated she doesn't know what she's on the trail of. Don't want to have to tell her. Clam up when she's on the wrong track about stealing. "It would be like this anytime I had a student who was bright and aggressive and tenacious, I'd feel they were stealing something as long as there was something they didn't understand. If they understood, it wouldn't be stealing." "They'd have to understand what it cost you to get it." "That's half of it, what's the other half?" She's stumped. I'm furious that she's stumped, don't want to tell her. Clam up. "They'd have to understand what it means that you had po-llio." "NOT WHAT IT MEANS THAT I HAD POL-LLIO" I yell through my teeth, "WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE THAT NOW. You think you handle it very well but in fact you can't handle it at all, you ignore it."

She asks me to imagine a person who'd be able to handle it. "He's been through something himself, he's seen his way through it, he isn't afraid to look at anything. He sees it right away but it isn't all he sees." "How would you feel with this person?" "I'd respect them, I'd trust them more."

She's guilted and doesn't see the next step but I do - what do I have to say to the one in me who ignores it? "I say I've come this far as I am, I haven't got many years left, do I really want to spend them changing myself this way. The good friend wants to know if I'm gutless. No, I'll go for it but I don't know what to do next." "Look into people and see." "All I can think of is staring at Larry Resnick, I can't see a thing." "It might take quite a long time." "Yuh."

"What I could do about shame, walking past my students in the hall." "Do you feel it?" "Not exactly, I register it, I don't know how to feel it and not show it." "Feel it later, don't read newspapers instead."


When I got back from walking in the field south of here she was cold. I said go for a walk and I'll make salad. Made a fire and cooked vegetable soup, almost ready when she got back. Put it in the two black bowls with butter and a café container of French dressing on top. We'll go sit in the car to eat it. If you hold this I'll drive the dining room over to where we can see the sunset. Swish car belly over deep grass, bump bump the edge of the west field summerfallow. A simple incandescent one. The hot spot in the northwest has a half circle of rose pink over it, distinct and blended. On the horizon an unexpected vivid band of blue. What kind of blue, it's far-hill blue but stepped up in relation to everything else, like new paint. Looked as if there was turquoise in it though there wasn't, a cupboard blue or a milky tourmaline. The kind of turquoise that's without green? I was thinking of Pound's China for some reason too. The reach of summerfallow, its textured simplicity. Serrated rising falling tree interzone. Then hottest yellow spread on either side of the hot apricot at the center, a green band, sometimes a dark band that might be a contrast illusion. The pink dome later drew out into ineffable rays, were they? Yes. Easier to see out the corner of the eye.

There are wing beats and trumpetings from the lake just now, some of them have arrived though it's early. The whisk and scrabble of our rodents over the porch into the grass, back into the front room behind me. When we came in yesterday after three days away there was a feather upstairs I know wasn't there last week - unusual grey fluff, I think maybe an owl. Does she bite squirrels when they rattle across the floor.

"Ah Louie you're so little you're hardly worth bothering with. But you have beautiful eyes, so brown," I said, and we laughed.

Did I finally earn somebody able to work, it seems. I wouldn't touch her 'til we'd got to my crux too. - There I looked up and saw a squadron of fireweed fluffs lofting away on a current. Alight. Brome's such broad blades arced over toward the sun. Nettles' dark green looks a potent concentration. What element do plants belong to - stone, water, fire, and air is their motion.

I'm seeing plants more exactly than ten years ago - some.

Then went with the camera eventually to this side of the slough. Willows - different ages - the older ones are coloring slightly to different degrees. The round integrity of willows. A lit-up baby with the bulk of its dark mother behind it. What's billows of grass for a floor - it's life life life - what's a froth of grass riding on top of it - it's being there happy as this - so in love with willows, especially willows. (I like carragana too, it's so at home.) The stems of willows, bright when they're young. The rooms under adult ones, clean floor with only willow-fall. A wasp silent on my neck.

I'm thinking of these images as images to creep into and make something from a fairyland no one has found - it's holding a breath and creeping into the grain - this morning the thin end of my breath where it ran through a stroke of sun was completely resolved into particles - white shining specks flowing suspended in a maybe-silver medium that spaces them.


Today I'm just helpless altogether, aching. It's cold, I can't sit at the table with warm feet loving fireweed fluff. Today I don't know how to live. "To have depth and marvel and movement and work again."

What 'depth' means, the body open under a feeling, I think, all the way down.

Depth, and comprehension, and contribution and perception.


Ditches in Alberta. Green strokes with a red streak. Pinsel. Light the way it burns through the greens and reds but not the buffs and browns. I like a midground or foreground in focus and farground treated as color. And sky sector that isn't sky but functions as. Down in the ditch there was a perspectived stream of red streaks.


We drive to the west field and watch a silver sky wiped and blotched with grey and white. Talk about sins, states that are their own punishment. "Oh I do love you" says Louie. "You have to give me a good reason or I won't believe you." Silence. "I have a good reason. You ask more questions than anybody I know." "Give me an example." "What is it about this emotion? What is it about this plant? What is it about this light?" "That is a good reason. I believe you." Really comforted.

When she came back from her walk and found me sitting in the sleeping bag on the grass and saw my face, her face took on not the feeling I thought I was showing her but the worst of the feeling I was in while she was gone. "Don't take my crying away from me!" "Sorry," and she uncrumpled. "You're an astonishing empath, astonishing."

September 2

When Mary brings the tea he has a slave in the room and can come back in. He comes up with a device to command our attention. Grandpa will take out his teeth for Levi. His hand is reaching for his mouth. "Fake teeth" Grandma is saying. "Fake mouth, fake ears, fake penis" Levi says. "Levi do you remember what I told you about private things that you don't talk about in public?" Liz is conforming as fast as she can. "Except with people your own age like Rowen" I say. Rowen has been mentioned, a blow struck against fake penis. But oh I'm tired. "Liz let's go home soon." "We'll go soon" she says but dawdles.

Bombing west on the highway we're running under the rainstorm and come out into dazzling light. Look at this. Oh look behind us. A rainbow spanning the pavement more intense and complete than any we could have wanted. A full double bow with darkness in the arc between. Judders of second colors under the primary. Bright streaks enclosed in the half circle. One foot on a near granary, the other on a bluff. We've pulled off and unlocked Adam so he can stand in his seat and look. A high transport tractor comes rocketing up under its bridge, flashing blue and chrome and spraying glitter.


Why trees against the sunset are immediate, why it takes years to see the ditches as they are now. Trees against a red sky are womb memory, the colors of the shapes of small plants are paradise of the present. Built slowly over years. Not that paradise is a garden, paradise is gardener's attention.


We escape fast. "Bye." Paul Judy Mum Rudy in that order around the corner. Ed stays where he is. Then, after Hythe, we have the most beautiful colors of all our days, ditches green blue yellow orange cream mauve rust brown magenta coral buff in orders exquisitely logical, textures exquisitely emotional, flares, drifts, floats, dabs, spreads, furs, blurs, flames, mists, generally we know invisible. A heaven we get for being ourselves. Nothing we could photograph. The fact that we're both there seeing it makes us seem to be the same person.

Friday 11th

Lillouet. Last night at the Billy Barker in Quesnel.

Yesterday in heat on Jean's bench of flat ground edged with three colors of hyssop above the garden plunge into the lake. She emerges from her front door tall and straight, slower, padding as if she has slippers on, considering the energy cost of every act. A blear of the eye. "I haven't swum for two years, I don't know how the water is." "You must be wondering how old I am. I never tell, but I'm very old." From a chair in her kitchen we see through the screen door a stone basin on a cut round of wood, a birdbath. The orange of a robin's belly, the shape and the faded orange of leaves on a bush behind it. Dark-dusted color of shade. In the living room a Jumbo heater, the most beautiful of kinds. Lichen-green painted floor and bookshelves a good color for old orange and white Penguins. Green the color of sagebrush.

It took all day coming from Williams Lake to Lillouet by the back roads where junctions aren't signposted but all the ways seem to tend toward the same few places. Alkali Lake where the Native girl in the store asked if I had a status card. "Does anyone in your car have one? I'll put it under my name then, so you'll qualify for the discount."

Between Alkali Lake and Dog Creek we climb into an area where there are strange ridges cut off sharp as dams. The road tops off on an edge hanging above the Fraser, steep terrifying corners looking across far and deep to the west side of the canyon, a gigantic wall so subtly cut, so complexly colored, so softly velvet-over by atmospheric blue that it's a struggle to look and to not look. Terrors are exhausting. I came down into Lillouet at dusk vibrating in crossed rhythms, Louie letting the car drop down through the loops of good pavement far too fast. I knew I was over the edge and wouldn't say slow down but had my left arm stiff pressing down onto the seat.

Then a single bunk next to the engine room of a steamer in Conrad's Malayan seas, heavily up the swell and down, in sheeted moonlight. "There is a nice face in front of me that is going to disappear very soon." Nine o'clock.

Somewhere in the night I'm awake when the engine is cut.

A motor slow to catch in the parking lot. Roaring as it's warmed up. Someone starting a journey before dawn.