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.
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
And here is what I left out: my enemies without wanting it or caring
did raise my talent.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
It's wonderful here. Where the cliff is cut it shows nothing but sand,
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."
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."
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
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.
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
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
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.