volume 2 of aphrodite's garden: 1985-86 july-march  work & days: a lifetime journal project
















Another confused pained scrappy volume. At its beginning, a couple of weeks into July, Rowen is about 7 weeks old, and at the end, 9 and a half months. For much of this time Michael has Rowen during the days and he's with me at night. In part 1 I begin a determined campaign to get Trudy to move out of the apartment below me. In part 2 start working with Joyce more seriously though still in an early way. Turn 41 at the end of part 7.

This very long volume was written in a lined hardback that had years earlier been used to sort reading notes mostly from physics and esoteric psychology, so that pages have those notes in a large loose handwriting either at the top or at intervals. The 1985-86 journal fills in what's left of the space with very tight small handwriting. I have transcribed both journal and earlier notes, the notes inset in a turquoise font. Contemporary reading notes are also in colored font but not inset. Green font is dreams.

Reading notes: Schwenk and Whicher Sensitive chaos, rowan trees, Kepler correspondence, birthday cake recipe, Mark Helprin Winter's tale, Eileen Garrett, film ideas, optics and other wave phenomena, Krishnamurti, Jane Roberts, Castenada The fire from within, Artaud, Marguerite Yourcenar, Andrew Harvey Journey in Ladakh, Karen Horney, Louise Von Franz, Sufi's and Alvin Lucier on sound, agronomy and land politics, Celtic seasonal beliefs, Jung and Emma Jung on animus and archetypes, Virginia Woolf Room of one's own, Peace River Country plants and animals, Susan Griffin Woman and nature, and more.

Mentioned: Jam Ismail, Michael Voskamp, Rowen Epp, Diana Kemble, Trudy R, Mary Epp, Joyce Frazee, Donna Zapf, Cheryl S, Daphne Marlatt, Robert MacLean, Frank Wilczec, landlord Peter Choy, Judie Bopp, Rhoda Rosenfeld, Paul Kinsella, Jean Waite, Kiku Hawkes, Mei-Lin and Hava, Jean Morrison, Anne Konrad, Katrin Zaugg,

824 E Pender St, MacLean Park, the Carnegie Centre, Andy's Bakery on Commercial, Ukrainian Hall on East Pender, USS Cape Cod, Vegetable Patch restaurant, Golden Horse bun shop, Woodwards Department Store, Produce City grocery, Pacific Stages bus, Granville Street, Reach Clinic, Hudson's Bay Department Store,

Woolf Jacob's room, Billy Budd, Peter Gzoski, Simon and Garfunkel, Press Gang Publishers, The chemical wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, Rembrandt, Margaret Epp, Joan Baez, The dispossessed, Dorothy Richardson, CBC Ideas, Greenham Common protests, Marianna Schmidt, Mary O'Hara, Thomas Wolfe, the Family Herald, the Country Guide, Roeg Bad timing, Gund bear,

13 July 1985

Dear unworldly one -
You too, wonderful Michael.

Says if the baby stays in the pouch the whole time he doesn't get frightened. I fly on the bike through the heat - it was he who moved near - to his hotel - climb the green stairs amid red doors, hear the baby crying, walk in and undo my breasts. And there's this unknown friend looking like someone who lives in another world from most, the tall thin people with beautiful hands, hard limbs, old clothes on the most distinguished frame. Dry-hair starved face. I'm too licentious with him, starved, and he's an innocent who wants it to be his mom and dad in love.


Oh quiet arrive -

Haze and cloud in opal - that northern sky now where we both can see it - dear one I'm defending myself from our accusing - the calamity happened to both.

I say I'm feeling the heart center open - he with tears squirting on my cheek says That's what I'm working toward.

How different the world looks when we're - his images - am I going to be without again - but the electric melt and little squeaks, I couldn't refuse to find -

Further in love stiller with you.

Why Cupid is a baby.

An early morning in the streets with him. White flicker moths into the green and shadow of the tops of the pines. The humming bird at Diana's scarlet runner, grub body squirming, wing blur transparent and head stock still. Materialized and then shot away


Hanging onto Jamila's distinction brought me into such poverty that now my husband is a skid.

He returns some of what I lose with her.

Quickbeam, the quicken, rowan or mountain ash. Delight of the eye, namely luisiu, flame. Rowen, regain. A second crop of grass or hay.


When he comes home in the afternoons his brown pink skin and clear interested eyes.

Michael woke this morning happy to be. Every morning a picture. Every afternoon he lives with the baby. Some evenings we sit on the north porch, the baby falls asleep in my arms or his, the sky colors. When it's dark we lie down quietly. One time it was the true heart opening, the other times are only limbs and trunks.

Sitting in heart's confusion, so much has come and gone. A costly failure rewarded by happiness, catastrophe brought on, its consequences turning over all down the line -

A frightened baby brought through the worst of it, and here's an unexpected husband giggling in yellow shorts.

And then my friend Jamila crazy with how much she wanted to be a father - who looked after the sickly end of the pregnancy, was there lying at my back through the labour, roomed with us the first week, paid the midwife, walked with the baby every dawn so I could sleep - was displaced. Thinking of it is like screaming.


Rudha-an the red one. In the Highlands planted beside farm buildings to ward witches.

1st August

10 weeks yesterday. When I sang into his face his body squirmed singing too. Squeals came out the mouth.

Lying in the bath getting warmed from a journey in the rain, I fold down from the waist to put my face near him and sing in the warm echo chamber of the tub. M is kneeling on the kitchen floor peeling potatoes. Shoulders and flanks. The white shirt. A trusting elation. Yesterday standing after sundown on MacLean Park grass looking at children running like the house martins. Not visible full moon. The beautiful smile of the nine year old Chinese boy. A little girl standing to cry with wide mouth and arms hung down "like someone singing the national anthem at a hockey game." M watching the littler one in a long dress comforting her, four little f.o.b.s standing in a group wherever they are. We stand like statues, I put my face on the back of the shirt, feel warmth through it. The kids run nearer when we aren't looking at them. The baby sleeps. The way the boy smiled when he saw me see him skid, I felt I've come out of my wrongness, I'm not banned anymore. I'm not ugly anymore. Looking another way. Jam in her dismantled house. The appalling thing I've done. What I see is her holding the newborn bundle - her baby. When I see it, at the end of the whole story, I stand in shock like the little girl with her mouth open.

Sunday 25th

Garden invaded house invaded friend invaded neighbourhood invaded self invaded.

She hardly ever goes out [Trudy living downstairs]. Your parasitism. You invade and then you hate what you are invading in order not to have to know your parasitism.
You're not going to invade my child or my relation to my child.
You invade my whole time. You invade my work.
Who - artist, lesbian, black, urban, Jew, modernity, classic shadow, power hungry. Long-married, observant, the only one who sees into, penetrating. Competing for the same territory.
Sees through. Jealous, paranoid, projective, opportunistic, sweet-talking.
Refuses gifts brutally.
Maintains hierarchy in every exchange.
Spoilt demands.
Fair and unfair. Generous and mean.

Telepathy, technology, has her own friend and takes mine. Keeps others off hers.


In the evening alone with small person. He's in the water. When he complains I take him out. Get soap in his eyes washing his nose badly. Put him into the thickest white jumpsuit. Lutch him. So sturdy and expansive. Sit in the crib chair with him. He's lying back over my upper arm with his head on blankets. I find him smiling nearby. Small voicing, mouth shapes. When I suddenly begin to sing, corners pull down. Then a little waa. I put him down on his stomach and he's gone without even turning his head.

Afternoon trek to Andy's for rye bread. The nice solid feel of him in a bundle on the lower back squared off like a cockroach egg capsule.


At night I say let's try again. I'm very dry. (What's behind is fear, if I fall into Jamila again.) He for once thinks to prepare, and then when we're talking we're saying it's nice. Downstairs she's painting. Poke poke poke. Stopped by pain that I'm betraying the women, who are the real ones, the hungry and impeccable careful ones, not like this slovenly talker. A professor overhearing us going to stand somewhere else. Agony.

Stopped in sadness. He begins a little. I see amazed that I'm near coming. The glow getting darker.

And how it is, what I have: something I don't know from before: strong easy and possible attraction in balance with deep shame.


What's this, the way it's rivalry, the key anyone can turn to demolish me.

11th October

M in the morning with wet yellow leaf in breast pocket.

brite soft baby
hows mows
When he's dressed to go home is when it starts to take. What's different is the palms are live and he in the lamplight opening again the flannel of a mother with black braid whose head is laid sideways on the pillow. An open spacey somewhere, I don't know it, a 17th century bed, a man in shirt and breeches, wanton delight, but in a future space thin silver and wide. Open one eye and see him with his sins forgiven, craven forehead gone, this is the favored son.


I watch myself for willingness. Giving heavy mind to explaining what she'd, anyone wd, know, what I adored her for knowing. Panic, how has this mind got hobbled to this one. Humiliation more than welfare, strain like nearly breaking, Incomprehension, why my equals aren't glad of me.




[with Joyce] Billy Budd. "There's a reason she moved into your house." She wants to destroy what she can never be. "I think she is it now more than I am." Wholeness.

"What they call the shadow. It's going to be very hard for you to own all that."

"What was the lie in it?" What comes to me is lesbianism, not that it's a lie exactly, but it was something we were trying to make so. "Oh ..." - I think I know how to come at it from another way - "they were goddesses to me, I saw a supernatural intimacy, that was the lie." She's nodding.

Morning - oh this morning! Looking out at gold.

Destroying by training me to be like her.


[My mom visits.] Feed her, make tea, something wearing me out. She's frisky. Feeling behind it, what's the indifference in this, I can't be anyone I like. And she doesn't rest, pushing on in the social keeping-going, tirelessly mindless until I go silent. The way she speaks with weights.


Meantime Michael at Carnegie waltzing with the baby.

In the bath finding the breasts are the space in front of the south windows of the house, spring break-up, bare land in water and light. Further south is the bush. Then the lake.

2 November

Wet darknesses after the time change. I go to the hotel. Baby and boy, yellow light in the corner, dark picture wall. The old men in cells 3-deep across the street. Graceful Michael. Lo bak, sin choy pork and brown rice cooked in one pot. We pass the baby and the wooden spoon across the table.

Lying on the bed toward the lamp, holding the baby on my stomach, stroking his head. "Duck fuzz duck fuzz fuck d- ."


I opened the door ... telephone wires were already falling ... the noise was overwhelming ... mud and lava ran in through the door ... I stood on the table and with my elbows broke a hole through the roof ... I pushed my wife and three children through it onto the roof ... a wave came, a big wave swept through the kitchen ... cuchina ... the kitchen fell, and my children and my wife went down ... I fear they have died ... so much struggle and hardship to raise them

Crying in a spotlight, the Canadian young man silent, holding a microphone toward him. Behind them a deep black, like coal, spaced glitter off muck and boulders.


How it is - how it is becoming - oh the baby still so fretting except in the water (sweet singing tonight after he's been frantic). Robert, consideringly: "If he's been there for the months with a crying baby, he's there for the years." Let's not think about that. Mesmerized by my bum. When he puts on the green pants for dinner bending over the baby on the bed. Odd what I've been sent, there's a wrapping-up feeling to it, the powers giving me someone so mending. "What have you been doing, your eyes look sad." Always sees and usually knows why. His blessed freedoms. This morning running up the stairs, cold whiskers, green wool toque, so pretty, a tall little girl going carefully flatfooted on the ice, leaning forward over the baby in his warm harness. Lashes dropping - are they - as we cross to the sunny side and go back to the bun shop.

And knowing I've got this health instead of what I had been dying for, the deep slight visionary (writing) I made in marriage with Jam, that she has taken to buy her in with death and the devil. She where no one. Is it really a ladder. She thinks so.


Squalling the way he does. Seagull fret, misery face. He'd slept, he'd drunk milk, and then again clawing my face. Tiger hands wanting to pinch his bum. The little claw on the side of my mouth. A tiny nip. Now he bursts into real crying, angry, shocked. But then sits quiet in my arms, looks quietly out. And later on my knee facing the twilight, carlights white and red, plumes of steam, yard lamps of the carwash. Absorbed.


On the wild side, lost, so many times I've tried to find you. In dust, cloud. You said, If there's any way to get through to you I will. I keep fearing.

Who is she anyway, someone I used to know? Dragging in the tide. Leave her there.

Saturday 7th

In the aft willing to kiss. Banging foolishly. What I did was like seeing him during the night, from his bed, he in the chair holding the baby straight-backed seriously chewing a strip of bread. The two profiles. "Nice Michael." You are just full of love and needing to find somebody. You're a third son, who shares his sandwich with some ants.

Law-avoiding citizens. Buddha wake up.

22 December

Walking to M's in the afternoon, young tree leaned against school fence, tinsel, popcorn string, crayon coloured pictures. Take hold of it at the slender waist and carry it by my side through the streets to the hotel. M when he sees it afraid he's expected to feel Christmas spirit.


Little boy in red and white sleeper with big white feet awake after nightfall sleep, sitting on my lap tipping his face back to watch beets go into my mouth, has a green bean in his hand.

2nd January 1986

What I want to know with you is what becomes of what we were after, what we were there for - mind. The mind so close it can see in and the gate that opens. Michael is true and sane and has the most beautiful bum in the whole of the animal kingdom, but what I do with him is what I could do when I was sixteen.

I'm furious that it was still, again and endlessly, the desperation for mind companion that gets me slaughtered, first by you guys and then by Jam. Her fabulous book that has my eight years in it. Why wasn't I working for myself. No. Why wasn't she working for me as much as I was for her. Why didn't she need it? Because she had it. Why did she have it? It's not true there's enough for everybody. Anybody can have a lover but a companion maybe not. Anyone can do work recognizable in Canada maybe. But the context that will support the bravest realest least ingratiating of what we like to do, very few of us have got. And we kill for it. Are killed trying for it. Stop trying in order not to die. Die in order not to die.

I've got part of what I need, and to get it I've got none of what I need. I like Michael and Rowen and am fat, do no work, read novels all day and go to bed often before 8. On moon-stressed days I bang doors knock heavy things onto the floor play AM radio in the room above someone trying to paint her way to New York and at times let the sink overflow. Mostly I can't sleep with M: heterosexuality seems perverse to me. Embarrasses me. No that isn't it: what it is, is I want something else: depth. And am making do with adulation. And besides that he's impotent.

The truth of uncertain welcome. "How did this happen?" It came of four years of suffering so fruitless so intense that I did the only thing I could to break out. I wish I could have simply left. That baby grew in an unwelcoming body was dumped out before he was ready came into the arms of 2 demolished berserk people and has been gradually rescued by Michael.


Morning has waning crescent, turquoise green eastern rim. Holding the baby at the bathroom window to see it before I turn on the light and the crashing of bathwater.

His second day in child clothes, overalls, shirt and socks, mashing bread crust in his gums.


The baby is crawling.


Freedom. Laughing with Michael, imagining writing The waves.

Rowen's unrecognizable so unusual look at times below my arm studying me.

8th February

Now he wakes only a little before 7. Lay and talked till the clock beeped. Then I keep my promise and come get him. He lutches what there is. We sit in bed, he looks at the window.

Michael wrecked in the mornings. Says it's from dreams.

Imagining going to ag school, imagining making a useable front.

The way warring with T and M I'm overriding what also seems to be myself.

It's more intelligent to identify with the whole set, but the result of this hardness is a bigger space. I'm not fastened in relationship pain.


In the bath he stands holding onto the side. We're in a warm pool playing. This morning, sky colors because of the snow. When he woke early he lay and talked. Happiness in a war calm. And I in my talking too between two lights in the clean new blue room with polished floor.

Still everyday force and defiance with Trudy. Still peaky for Jam. Oh, I could see you. So respectfully. Still hooting with Michael, proud of the kid, liking the sort of warmth there was in his palm, like the warmth instantly created between my hand and real silk discerned in a box of scarves.

Drought-stricken sub-Saharan region where women are being pushed off productive land by male farmers who want to grow cash crops for export.

Assistance in the form of training, advice or new technology is primarily directed at men.

Development projects have also tended to place land ownership into the hands of men.

To ensure women's equal opportunity and access to land within land tenure and agrarian reform efforts.

Imagining Elfreda Salt, red thread of women warriors, green field clothes, strong boots.

The Boddhisattva vow.
What is joy.
The world.

Earth warrior.

No longer stopped by fear and doubt.

Knowing what is important, she is free to enjoy the path.

Highly colored presence, liveliness to take on anyone, congenial strength.

To love all created beings so much that you want to become perfect so you can be of help.

5 March

Ghosted by RM's shadow face - a collapsed dark look, gibbon. So impeded hostile around-the-corner down at the mouth black look and in it I'm the silliest woman prepping my house struggling with his weight smi-i-i-ling against his pomp, animating away incredulous and actually curious but not allowing it. What is this.

The ghosting is his truculence, I don't like it he says unimpeded. Tarot and babies.

What's my struggle. Mirror. Is that me. Then coming to M's brightness.

Hurling it - fury robot, thumping boots, bossy jacket. The woman and her animal. She wants him. Actually not. She wants him. She comes to a turn she's seen before. Getting quicker now. I'm going to slash him before he has a chance to say no again. Just scram will you. Have I done it this time so it stays done.

Did I slash him to get even and now we can go? On.

FIRE! I say to Michael, Is that the fire engine coming to put me out?

My desire songs, my siren. "Like a man walking in the water." "Like a man ashamed intently."

Start with the beginning. Where are we. The blackness and all the directions of suns. Earth awake and asleep, awake when she faces her world. Jam I love you so much. Asleep when the sun turns her to lateral concern. You, I love you because you're starving hungry. Here's the way having hurt him I'm in the force of the gale of love again. Raptor's balance, wings like sheets in a gale.