Volume 8 of Aprhrodite's Garden: 1987-1988 November-August  work & days: a lifetime journal project  


















In parts 1 and 2 thinking about philosophy and what I could do in it. Part 3 meet Stan Brakhage, first mention of Rob. Part 4 leadership in the garden's fight with the city. Part 5 in England for the Canada House notes in origin show. Part 6 notes in origin at the opening of the new National Gallery in Ottawa, then visiting family in Belleville and Toronto, then back in Vancouver going into a sexual frenzy about Rob. The garden fight with City Properties gets serious. Part 7 a Canada Council B grant, meet Louie. Stress, hunger, wide connections.

Notes: Jane Roberts, ideas about granularity, the imaginary, Howard Gardener The mind's new science: a history of the cognitive revolution, Le Guin from Left hand of darkness and from Flicker's story in Always coming home, Paul Virilio, Krishnamurti, Eileen Garrett Many voices: the autobiography of a medium, something about the dreamtime from an unknown source, Evelyn Fox Keller A feeling for the organism, Bataille, Rosalind Heywood The sixth sense, Russell Hoban The medusa frequency, Orpheus and Hoban, technical notes about filmstock, Dewdney The immaculate perception, Tarthang Tulku Love of knowledge, Barry Lopez Arctic dreams, native cultures in North America, Dorothy Richardson interview, somebody on silence, Jirij Moskvitin Essay on the origin of thought, visual system and mosaic, David Marr Vision, Nerval, Plotinus The enneads, Ovid, Theodore Sturgeon The dreaming jewels, Gordimer A guest of honour and The conservationist, Nicola Baldwin Falling under, Laurens vander Post, Sean Slovo A world apart.

Menitioned: Michael Voskamp, Rowen, Eric Erickson, Trudy Rubenfeld, Rhoda Rosenfeld, Luke, Diana Kemble, Cheryl S, Joyce Frazee, Akira *, Phat Phil, Pat Ranch, Ken Driediger, Ted Honderich, Sara Chisholm, Mary Epp, Frank Doerksen, Robert MacLean, Paddy Sigurgierson, Jan-Marie Martell, Daphne Marlatt, Ed Epp, Jam Ismail, Meg * at Cineworks, Dave Rimmer, Stan and Marilyn Brakhage, Martin Rumsby, Jim King, Henry Jesioka, Tony Rief, Maryanne Pengali of Environment Canada, Patricia Gruben, Greg Morrison, Jill McGreal at Canada House, Mike Hoolboom, Monty Jones, Paul George, John Turvey, Carole Taylor, Peter Tseng, Libby Davies, Bruce Eriksen, Maxine Gadd, Moura Quail, Elliot Wyman, Judd Pratt, Andy Wyman, Roy Chisholm, John Harrison, Renny Bartlett, James Bennett, Ros de Lanerolle, Marilyn Cox, Michael Snow, Kay Armitage, Brenda Longfellow, the Voskamps in Belleville, Anne and Harvey Dyck, Elizabeth Dyck, Phil Hoffman, Peter Harcourt, Margaret Mitchell, Gordon Campbell, Paul George, John Jessup, Lise Bachelor, Jean McGreggor, John Parsons, Susie Tang in the welfare office, Mabel Richards, Frank Doerkson, Richard Tetrault, Joann Hochu, David Suzuki, Louie Ettling, Mrs Hsu, Jim Green.

824 E Pender, Welcome Cafe, University College London, Girton College, Carnegie Center, Emily Carr College, Hong Kong Café, Cineworks, Canada House, CFDW, Saturna Island, First United Church, Customcolor, Sikora's, the Women's Bookstore, Crabtree Corner Daycare, Koo's Automotive, Vancouver Vocational Institute, the Rose and Crown in Baldock, Hertsfordshire, Trinity Hall Chapel in Cambridge, Granville and Caius College, British Museum Reading Room, Embankment Park in London, Shaftsbury Avenue, Mile End Road, Chelsea Physic Garden, Heathrow, National Gallery of Canada, Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, Vancouver City Hall, the Only Seafood Café, Hastings Street, Lonsdale Avenue, Hawks Avenue, Midnight Madness Bingo, Peter's Grocery at Hasting and Hawks, UBC, Abbott and Tincombe Photography Stores and Services, the Fisherman's Hall, CRAB Beach.

Norman Malcolm on dreams, Ahsen, Sartre, Hegel, Jung, Hillman, Casey, Bachelard, Eden Gray, Doris Lessing, Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf, Timeair, A passage to India, Molly Keane, Annabel Nicholson, Sally Potter, Dale Spender, Stevie Smith, Barry Gehrson, Arthur Lipsett, Roy Kiyooka, Philip K. Dick The divine invasion, Environment Canada, Gary Snyder, Jane Harrison Prolegomena to the study of Greek religion, Charles Olson, Four Worlds, The honor of all: the story of Alkali Lake, The act of seeing with one's own eyes, Women and nature, Women's Day march, Emily Dickinson, Walden, Shirley Carr, Bread and Roses, Jerusalem, Mozart, Debussey, Ros Heywood, Robyn Davidson Tracks, Warnock's Existentialism, Lis Rhodes, Elizabeth Gaskell, Tallis Scholars concert, Laiwan Ubiquitous China, Masanobu Fukuoka The one-straw revolution, Marlatt Ana Historic, BC Housing, Vancouver Sun, Cherry Ames, Alterity, the Canada Council, David Marr Vision, White museum, Seated figures, what will we know, trapline, Chris Williamson, Lascia qu'io piango, Rosalind Turek, Brian Eno, CBUT, Western Canadian Wilderness Committee, Kathy Linden Goodbye Jimmy Goodbye, The dispossessed, Middlemarch, CBVU, Turnbull and Gale Associates, City Properties, the Chinese Benevolent Society, Redeye on Co-op Radio, Let it be, NFB, tessera, CBC TV Evening News, KISS, CJOR, Dance of the blessed spirits.

 11 November 1987

What's it like, sullen - like a baby sitting on a lump in its diaper frowning. What's the baby feeling. Fed up, inert - I don' wanna -

Everywhere I've loved I've ended up stopping myself and it's a forest of stumps.

I feel in the presence of the image, and need to feel, but don't believe the feeling is a true relation to the person, and yet feel it must be. I'm sure it's really that one I'm feeling and want to be with and simultaneously I don't think so. Is there a difference in the two believings. When I'm believing yes I'm thrilled in hope and fear, I'm vivid, what I write has heart and is beautiful, it's a shift into a soul core. When I say no, it is more like saying than believing, I talk myself out of it, it's like restraining a child. Yet it isn't like the second person of writing, who takes more care, because the correction in writing is satisfying and agreed on, and the correction against desire leaves the other self protesting. In writing the correction is making the sentence closer, that's why. So is there a way the corrector could make desire closer? Maybe more in doing than in understanding. Don't stop her from finding out. Help her investigate.


What do I want with this stuff - [Norman] Malcolm on dreams - moronic assertions of somebody w/o experience - or Witt[genstein]'s descriptions of stuff I have no experience of and am repelled by - or Sartre so dislocated I can't find a foothold in the first sentence - Jung vastly interested and interesting and near to own concerns but in volume beginning to seem arbitrary as if not his method but his intuition is giving him what he knows.

What I seem to see is that I like the computer model better than the others - circuits with and without access to each other - more and less comprehensive.


I'd have to take on philos. There's no question of settling into the middle of it.


Behind these a morning pink and frosty of the best, dawn light so intense even the wrong colors of the new houses glowed transcendently. There was 1st new snow up there yesterday and the mountains of tinted cloud that loom against it.

Pink and blue and that pear-yellow of single leaves on the street cherries.

Mashed fox-brown leaves coated on the sidewalk.

Nervous pleasure of riding M's bike with the high seat and weak right hand brake.

Rowen in loved earflap hat and warm duffle learning to put his hands in his pockets now it's cold.


In one sense the I am is just an I am here now that can go anywhere without necessarily knowing how it got there; in another sense it is the whole of an organization, map, competence. A is looked after by B. A is like a point.

I like philos in the first two paragraphs where it says it wants to correct inaccuracies that make us think wrongly. But when it goes on to the traditional philosophic doubts I think this way of speaking is itself mistaken.

What could I go after that all the parts would want?

Philosophy not an attempt to produce a logical system composed of concepts - it's an art of making something of oneself - they are trying to make the diamond body.

Sunday 22nd

What would the thesis be - a way of making what I've done in my own way present itself to the academics - a way of making myself learn to bridge them and so come out bigger than both.

I'm assuming the actual thesis will be easy but keeping inside my own while succeeding in the male canonical will need utter effort.


Betsy telling how her baby was born and wrapped and put onto her abdomen without anyone noticing its gender. She says she'll look when she's ready. Her intention is to welcome the baby without prejudice but meantime her hand from feeling the little round bum is surreptitiously sneaking under the blanket and finding she thinks a little penis. But it's the cord. Then feeling the perineum for testicles, there don't seem to be any. I think it's time to look now, she says.

I was google-eyed listening to the story of the lesbian's hand creeping toward but not arriving at her daughter's little crack. (Of course it did arrive but she isn't telling.)


I like to work by going from one written system quickly to another - this aft it was Casey, Jung, Olson, etc - it's the strange mind of the 1st page or two that sees most.

Subjectivities (souls) visible in images

This means immediately what's happened in dope, looking at images in art mags - seeing the quality of the image as a person's quality of being - it's like becoming the quality in looking at it, and then knowing it as that, by moving to another - the becoming it is like a process of deduction, but it takes place <behind the screen.>


A kind of lively sense of having come this far on an intuitive yes and no that meant I could navigate safely and swiftly, but invisibly, and now standing and fighting for space in the world.


Want to say I'm reading philosophy in the light of its being men.


Michael mommy-daddy he has been saying from the beginning as if Michael's kindness is the one essential name. I hear him in the bath and in his bed thinking of it.

December 5

With Rowen and Michael and the bike the other night standing at the new hoarding looking down into the excavation for the Ukrainian old folks home, M says, "Our new home, it's not at all as I imagined it," so lightly fit I kissed his hand.

It's satisfying to write like this, worrying too, public language, it's mediative, I'm ashamed of that in it, but able too, and makes me able on the phone.


Space is not divided into physical and mental. There is no outside inside. I'm going to test this sense against the philosophers.


I would like to make it possible for women to cut through men's debates.

Saturday 19th

I'm sheltering in Ursula the way I do, marveling - "to Charles without whom none of it" - the life she is. Michael when I showed her picture said, She's like you. I think she is the perfect life of this time. Saying it, I hear jeering, but I think it's wrong. She is what I might have been able to be if I had had a platform of freed intelligence in my family, and if I hadn't had the complication of a taboo'd body. She would say, you must be faithful to the family you have, but I think first they have to have been faithful to you, and my family for generations has been faithful to cowardice - am I wrong? What she assumes, and still defends, she isn't the first in her family to know.

I know it's shameful to worship anyone, it means I am not myself, I'm not yet up against myself, I am not in my full life - it means also that I am them in comprehension but not in expression, I am handicapped in action the way many people are. And still thinking I'll break through, I'll form it.

Seeing what she does in philosophy, she gets a view and sets it in a phrase or paragraph and it's done.

She is at home cooking, a middleaged housewife she said, fifty-eight. A master of whatever can be known, wholly honoured though not publicized, three grown children, Charles she married at 22 in Paris, an ordinary old house, many expeditions, and some sadness fuelling her enough to take her into more worlds than anyone, a morally privileged intelligence. Maybe she's lonely in her intelligence, she seems to say so, but at least she knows it is intelligence. She loves her being. Maybe her sadness is that she doesn't see it take effect. And she compares herself of course with some much higher standard. She hints at love lost when she was adolescent, her brother maybe, and beyond that in the equations such intuitives overwhelm themselves with, the womb-brother who in this passage I see is the mother as well as the placenta.

She was forty when this one came out I think. It was the beginning of her big power, she had to be little with her children up to then.


Yesterday tried feeling the outline of sore solar plexus mass, saw it, brush strokes, was in dialogue with it, it cleared, became transparent - but then in my forehead a complicated mass of pressures and stabs, slabs, yellow needle, dark clouds, a wood-like slab down beside the inside of the right eye. Not easy to feel its outlines, they move and elude. I speak to them too, "abstract?" asking it what it means, and then begin to see/feel the bone behind the nose, its splintery netted fragile shape. I saw/felt very clearly and it was as if physically cleared too, an area often pressured I was seeing airy.

This morning M made up the word ethmology. Next to where it wasn't in the dictionary, was ethmoid the name of those airy bones that carry, it says, olfactory nerves. Thin plates containing perforations through which -


I want to say about Michaels' boy form in his jeans, sneakers, white shirt, that it enthralls me, like a hawk silhouette on glass, the outline a releaser, an attacher. My eyes glue onto it though it doesn't make me want to touch him, usually. It is - there's something I want to find - like a gape - I want it in my sight but only in my sight - and then too I can't get enough of it, like when I was thirteen, BOY! BOY! I don't even mean I resent being mesmerized by it - (shd I) I don't - it's like a closure, as if it's what I'm hungry to see.

I like with Michael the freedom to say it in its own responsibility, the brightness of my dark face over his shoulder (his not at all bright face) comparing biceps. "I look so pretty when I'm showing you my muscles."

Not knowing what to do. Professional philosophy and cognitive science seem desperate repulsive discourses without a hope, I too without a hope of standing through them. I'd like my PhD. Is that true? I don't know, I have a little sense of wanting it.


What happens in soma is that I become a marveling curiosity: what is this being? What is being? Knowledge so easy to come to, and so new, everything describing itself and its use and meaning, radiantly, simply. I do not have to chase understanding; I stand still, even moving, and it comes to me and I smile around myself at it, it's Eden, it's natural and my right home.

Then: I am an angel and need no suitcase or shelter because I am so light in my body, I can walk the world in joy to see and know. Hunger comes to me dimly a far-off dinner bell, it is not there to torment me, only to remind.


The Jam letters. What's different. They don't have the springy youth. I can't see them with surprise. I just feel, how could she not love me? Like marveling to a father, how can you not wish me well?

The writer I am in them is too much her and I'm not impressed.


In some ways the whole of Jam a waste as if after Cheryl I should have stayed alone in what I had so carefully built. With Jam so much sad trying, and giving her what I'd made to try to make her lucid, and she really preferring not to be bothered, and I dwindled. I lost ten years and the wrongness with Michael and Rowen will go on for more - I dunno when it will stop.

These letters are sad sad frightened bullied boring precious clinging to specks.


And then bought Rowen a tricycle, "pin-kk bike." He pink and tearfully soft in the bike seat picking crackers out of the cellophane with red cold fingers, and the little bike being carried on the handlebar.

there is no one to tell
Ellie in her bright an' dark damp wool
and Rowen in his hunter's cap and little duffle
and the too-tall green bike with yellow seat
and the echelons of grey

He cried in bed, I held his hand, surface to surface so lightly lightly alive and small.

Hard gusting rain.


The kind of day it was today - I want to say, it's not easy - it was a 'spring' day, a light, open, day with air moving, clean air I think, very blue with few very white clouds, cold and warm - but I kept feeling, this is exactly a day of another time, what time is it? Walking with M I couldn't tell because we were acting as if we'd done something, we were acting as if we were having to act as if we'd done something, momentarily got to IT, yes we did, and that was that and wouldn't require politeness after, but did. London, I guessed, but what about it, smelling a cold daffodil, yellow and blue and white - but no - something else. Twenty-five minutes lying down with it outside and shining in (the clouds on the mountains reflecting light into this room, yesterday) I was almost transparent in it. Are colors intensifying maybe.


Hello. What to do.

What abt PhD, visual studies. Grain.

What about grain. I love to see it. I like to barely imagine seeing it. Wind forms. Silts. What about the word. Silence - silica - silk - sill - silver - cell - sal - savor. Dust to dust. Sensation itself.

Working these bits there's an uplift tone I must challenge.

There's also a feeling of being wonderfully brilliant and with it. A suspicion of a fear of hell impending for going to bliss without waiting for those who WORK.

Is my ugly foot payment enough.

Induced a state seeing spirits - in the floor paint a horse head and a skeleton hugging itself, on the wall a little face - a spooky fear.


What about it is that the material is something for me but I'm always in doubt about 'the film', don't know where to start, it has no bounds. What do I know, the tone. I register the best I've found.

Like an excited gas. Need the straight lines of crystal structure to point me in it.

I need - color fields - straight lines - an utter technical concentration - theoretical sidework - method - venture into vision without sidetrack - someway to dedicate it to true intuition.

Intolerable vague excitement I want to escape from.

A way to treat my gatherings so they inspire without forming.

What looks good in the viewfinder is dirt, edges of stones, small amount of plants, orderedness of the way dead stems lie down, the row of onion tubes. Other things look too fussed.

These parts are as if a revolutionary stretch I dread and escape. I feel them pulling into place but I can't yet reach the breadth they need.

Grain of dirt, could be stepping and graining it / overlaid at different distance, yeah.

A sky color, that sky yellow, and the yellow star, and intensity of the same.


Lying down in the late afternoon, exercise of listening, sounds from the street, I 'saw' from somewhere further west on Pender Street toward the 800 block, in the going-home dark there actually was, a motorcycle headlight, white single spot, shift out from behind a car and as if pierce me. Shocked me awake. It was more dazzling black and white than if it'd been real.

I got to it by saying I wouldn't try to hear, I'd just hear.

Rowen in the café this morning put his arms around me and held me quietly with warm life through the whole belly.


Already the pressure of ambitious doing. It was cold and clean, clean mountains, clean cloud, clean ground with shafts of glass ice.

Heavy writing like pushing with my brain.

Just go to sleep maybe.

5th February

[Stan Brakhage, Marilyn, Dave Rimmer and I at CFDW looking at Rimmer's and my work and some Lipsett films David wanted Stan to see]

He's a whiney pontiff and courteous and generous and I saw my work with him, Trapline a bit crude in cut but as he said a sound film, wonderful connections of sound and surface that I made blindly. Then notes in origin I could easily say I wasn't sure of, he said bravo for the moon's entrance! And then we all went into the whitening, we seemed to stop breathing. He was, as I, really whitened by the cloud, and at the end too. "I've never seen a film anything like it." "It's brave yet serene." "It's not at all like Barry Gehrson, you've been seeing it with the wrong people maybe." I could tell him the marvel of the ice membrane. He said the fly image looked cold. "The, what is it" (I said), "specific density of the air." His simplicity helped me, he was so willing like a big grey blotter and at the same time hanging his head and repeating old themes about being so tired of poets dying of neglect, Lipsett, a brilliant cameraman like him.

It's true Lipsett was marvelous to see, the little girl waving as she's attached with guywires and next picture you see her on top of a balloon half a mile above ground. In it all Lipsett's saying, I CAN'T BELIEVE WHAT PEOPLE WILL DO, I can't believe how people live.

Meantime a big fly rubbing its hands on the paper bag with light in it.


Today it was a lot of that formality he likes. Mama Ellie please more juice. Mama Ellie help please. Not formality, mastery. What kind of person is he. Gusty. Springing with pleasure of confidence. Rough. But if I stop him with the smallest smack on the leg he crawls into my arms crying pitifully. Perry pushing him off the mat sent him into a fit. He begs for books - Margaret was telling me how much he likes it when they have a circle and someone sings or tells a story ("I thought I wouldn't give him too much of that cultural stuff but he's crazy about it.") - and now he's finding the letters on them, Tiny A for Adam. He says tiny as if he's looking in wonder at a speck of a bug.

Should notice that I got through the weekend laughing with him, did not get mean. I like his mouth corners and I like his bright brown eyes and his newness of combination.


Our present creation story is a story of space and grain, currents and straight lines, attractions and repulsions, expansions and contractions, intensities and rarefactions. If-then stories.


Garden, because it was warm, grabbed me and held on the way it can. I start to ache, need to eat, but don't leave. The bees were awake and flying like my delight. Eric said, "I guess it's starting to speed up. We're into the fast stretch." I started talking about the ellipse being a sum of two or more forces, "but what's the second one?" "It's inertia," he said, "otherwise we'd fall into the sun." "Ooo, let's go." I had spun around to hold my arms up to it. Standing there with him as at other times a loving joy in his company. "I could tell you something about bees not many people know." (It was that the reason they are buzzing around stinky things is that they're carrying bacteria.) "But what's in it for them?" "Oh it's part of their deal with the plants!" He woke one morning last week with that message from the bee-mind. Looking at him, even the china teeth, he looked an elf, the way his mouth corners go into thin wide crooks and his tall light frame and peaked ears.


He rows, I create the river. Never a wrong motion. We come out in a long sigh of light, a crackle of water, a flowery mead. We have our eyes open on each other's faces. How did you know how to do that? It's the first thing I say to him.


On the sidewalk in Chinatown feeling the sunlight itself is happiness. I'm trying to think whether bubbling is right, gurgling was what I thought first, the water sound. When I was digging I heard the first blackbird gurgle of the year - the first I heard - but I didn't hear it, I listened to it after it was over and I realized what it was. (So short-term memory is close to being the event, itself - no, that's already modeled: I heard the blackbird sing but it was not the blackbird singing until after I'd heard it. Then I didn't hear it again but I heard it back there in the accomplished - I saw it over on the other side of the garden a dark line eight or nine feet off the ground, over there, back there, at that much of a distance.)

1st March

Ripped up Mary's cheque. She said Women and nature was so black, "Couldn't the writer have found something brighter?" I am seriously on strike with her. It has taken me 'til now to discover her as a philistine.

My face is showing all-over little creases for the first time - a little bed of them under the eyes - a new coarseness - and yet how black and bright and delicately wise I look, more than ever, as though I've gone a marvelous dangerous route alone, and am still on it, and will be as passionate when I'm old.

Something else feeling how she the monster of complacent fear wasted his life by forcing him to keep account of all the bad she doesn't want to know.


The way when I meet Rob at the garden there's a moment before one of us starts talking, that is like a little shock of love. Is there a better way to say it - it doesn't zap, or I don't know whether it goes from me to him, we look at each other and it's there - when I first see him - a gentle intimacy, that then jumps into some business message.

Curiously, it is a sexual love. It takes in the whole body, as if just by seeing it. I like his rectitude. What else, he's courageous in the way he presents himself to much that someway invades him.


Going to fetch Rowen and find Michael, limp, exhausted, and wanting to be fucked. "I said, she's exhausted and she wants to be fucked." Michael has been looking like such a clean bright boy, when I see him across the room at Carnegie making his off-the-wall airy little jokes I want to eat him. I can't believe my luck. And somehow also it doesn't turn out to be true, because the man I take to bed isn't that clean bright boy - though, oh my, I liked the bulge of his warm arms and I liked being buttered oyster and feeling his confidence goin' in and out solidly. But it doesn't, didn't, get to sex. Oh mean little Jam who had suspense and timing. The opiates didn't manufacture.


Reading Walden. I don't remember anything except maybe the line fishing upward, but I seem to have reiterated it in the meantime, not so meticulously and in another texture (I'm seeing wing feathers). He is my friend in admiration though over-tidy in his arrangements, and I wonder if he died young of purity. He likes an elegant social step - gailliard. Emily D had that neat finish too, but her smaller steps. As if in both of them the one who saw was what he says, un-local, and the one who spoke was trained to parlors. Horrible hopes. He got rid of furniture but went on alluding.


It's hard work. I can't read all of it. I am not it, far from it, seeing the way the handwriting's spaced on the page with thought in the white space. Reading it I'm feeling there's little record of the time, my visits with Jam that would be unprecedented stories. But I was working so hard, as if I was standing in my brain holding up bits of smashed lumber from the whole of the world's life, anywhere, and wanting to - what - a long pause. I was conscious of remaking my mind - mixing that mind with this one is making me unwilling to be suave.


Cheryl's opening. I was muddled and distressed but today I can see how it was. I go into those soaks of visibility without knowing myself, as if I think I'm someone else. Who am I thinking I am? I'm thinking I am disliked, at bay, alien, angry, and it seems the one who is that is my perception, that I won't speak from.


I'm wondering I guess whether I'm like Ed after all, blind self-congradulation, lust, aggression, oblivion, self-pity, greed, missing every nuance to just not have to feel my lack of skill or breeding.

But that lot are boring too - their feminism sounds like village religion - they talk to each other or at least me in quite a hopeless way - I mean hopeless of themselves. And me too. Jam didn't do that. She spoke uncomprehended in a way hopeful of her own interest.


Midnight. Writing today and yesterday with pink fire in my face - clean steady burn of writing hour after hour without caffeine. Tonight after Rowen went to bed I simply from the top wrote what I want to do. I seemed to be beginning the doing. It was like achieving myself. The pink life in my face is remarkable, as if pressured writing is now my fountain of youth. It's the brilliant white light hydrangea bush springing from the cripple's broken bed.

April 10

A morning like Pleasant Street. The sidewalk lies warming amid warm grass. Street trees are curly forms above the 1945 Mercury basking at the curb. Cherry Ames is putting on her hat in the kitchen. Her suitcases stand on the concrete stoop. They are cherry red like her hat. Her suit is grey. The kitchen is yellow and white like a fried egg, the curtain blows in morning slant of fiery light. There is a kind distinguished father who teaches at the university and has on a grey cardigan. He will put on his old tweed coat and drive Cherry to her new life in New York City.

Rowen in the bath has his finger in a Canada Dry bottle he's bubbling. He has his head back looking at the ceiling singing about the spider. Go sly pider, something like that, A-dam where you-ou, o now my shadow, fall dow-own, o no all gone, go n'there A-dam, get all wet, dory, lello Perry, E-llie comm'ai-air, see bubbles, shub'bo duck do dat!


What else - nerves very on edge after how silky they've been. Shrieking at Rowen and between times a kind of love that's like a knife turning in the solar making me laugh.


What I want to say is the quality of smiles I've found looking at me - thinking maybe that's what other people have ordinarily known and I've had to earn with my ferocious plunge into common usefulness.

Also it's like doing childhood again and this time in a community and having a value and task and being childish and showing myself in egotism and bigotry and skill and actual leadership, which means I've lain at night listening to (myself) say what we must do next.

30 April

Muggs when I said how we could send postcards - she was the only one I was looking at - seemed to be rising up in a dazzle of glee.With Rob it's more the straight-ahead colloquy of agreement in first principles. We make our plans as if there are no limits. "If you hadn't been there that day I might never have joined." I know that I wove our structure cunningly generously very carefully in many details of welcome and placement and information, and I was wise in public structures I got my way on. Last week Anne and the Crabtree kids letting themselves loose like birds into the leaf piles, paths, the kid pit. Grace left the kids to Anne and just made beautiful beds and there they are. Margaret stood by the shed and said "It feels wonderful here," and I know it's my sorted design, I did it, but what I mean is, oh joy I was given to be able to do it. And these people who found their way to it. And this is the way I always knew social life should be.

The big jumbo rides much more sensitively, hanging juddering from its long wings, so high. All night squashed in the seat, oh I am alive and here, not exactly sleeping (that moment I felt the pub move, sleep being evoked) but suddenly awake like a child all bright and rested. I went to look out a window, and there were clouds like seraphim in rows. Such lively curled beings perfectly alight in the high paradise of open air. That doesn't say how they are shaped, because I don't remember, though I've seen them in a painting. What I remember is the delight, which is their shape in another way.

London 5 May

Embankment Park and then the river and then go put my hand for it to lick. I hung over the embankment wall and began to see the water - by colors, white, blue, pale olive, darker olive, under the curl a very bright khaki - then the silt clouds slow and ponderous under a glassy clear skin of choppy motion - then the movement of the whole near shape like unworn mountains of pushed up and sucked down rock - then the skin plaid of fine wrinkles crossing - then the primordial constancy of unmaking by making, its visibility - as if god came in front of my eyes because I asked it to - standing by the river with other pilgrims. Did he know what I was seeing? He sat on a bench to watch me see - I think. The city is very stiff, it's made stiff; the river god is not so.


A man, an old man wrapped in coats, sitting on a box, so that he is himself a raggy box at the open head of the arcade, facing into it and sending his music like the softened long breath of old lungs down into the arcade corridor between shops with Scottish sweaters, perfume and chocolates. He was playing the accordion without jerks, like a breeze. I went back to give him 50p, came up facing a face almost not a face, a red eye, blur of whiskers, some existence, very worn out and slumped, still breathing. The canvas bag for money was attached with a safety pin to the corner of the keyboard, lined with cardboard to make a pouch. He held it for me to put in the coin and then when I was walking up the arcade again he hit out with a jerkier effort.


Later it was pain. In the forehead of the bus going east on Mile End Road such a painful pain. Jill [McGreal] drunk stuffing envelopes beside me unexpected stabbing. "My aunt had polio, she walked like you. She never married." Telling me what a terrible thing had happened. "Is it so terrible?" I'm checking through files trying to get through the list, handling her with half the left hand. "Permanently damaged" she says. This always comes up here, I stride in the body I've accomplished, the plate glass has me right and bold in everything but the way the right foot sets down with a helpless look, like a flipper, and the entire body drops when it takes weight on the right leg. It is worse than I imagine.

Ottawa 22nd

London plants were so beautiful yesterday, the shapes of the trees made of the shapes of their leaves. The aisle of plants in a protected space between the terraces. Even what I could see from the train to Heathrow, buddleias' wonderful confident shapes erupting out of cracks beside the concrete embankment, snapdragons, all of it is eruption of beauty out of holes in the ground.

Coming down into Toronto into a wasteland, the fields around the airport seemed as if uncivilized in their own terms - brutish and bare - and the flats of factories and primitive shingled roofs - it's the whole texture of London that thrills me.

Vancouver 6 June

What I remember is coming into a room where Rob is. He takes my hands directly into his, without speaking, and I put my head against his neck. He talks about the animals around us. There are a pair of wolves in a pen standing in shadow with yellow eyes. They seem sinister to me but he says they're not, I get one out to play with like a relaxed puppy. There are other times I leave work and find myself in a room in his arms. It's a great naturalness.


We were standing in the section of the shelterbelt that he's put native plants in. Wind gusted up, bushes were beating, the grass ran up against our legs. He placed himself to stand directly behind me. It was as if he was holding me in his own way privately.


What's the matter. Went to bed early, nothing to do. Wake these mornings anxious in the solar, don't know why, lonely, draggy, in a tremor. The house is broken and dirty, bare and poor. Waiting to have money. It's fiery summer through clean windows. Love-time and no arms, though the blackberries have many, flowering like roses. At the south foot there is a rose all over a blackberry hummock, and beside it a cave.


Monty my last free night made the fire - I'd been going through shrubs with Rob - after sunset - asked if I wanted tea. I fetched R. Monty used a couple of teabags and brought out sugar from a bag of café envelopes. We drank the tea as if it were whiskey, getting silly, yakking. I was cold. Monty offered his blanket. I shared it, and that brought shoulder and leg, like kids. No wish to go home. A drift of scent from a flower. Stayed out 'til midnight. Our bikes went different directions without the kiss there should've been.


Reading about the monkeys who kill other males' infants, thinking Ed hated us as if we weren't his, in the way Rowen isn't mine - we weren't the children of the self he wanted to be.

3 July

"I have two accounts, when I've put money in them it's dead, it's gone, I don't know about it."

The way something said will repeat itself to me after, the way "it's dead" did. It always means, look at this, it means something. But I don't hear it at the time.

I have an ache in the cunt, is that for him, and is he telling me he locks himself in the bank, maybe.

"Is it because you want to buy land?" "I want it to be there when I want to do something."

He brings his hand out of his pocket with beans in it, white black and brown like polished wood, from the old house.


Rowen in a bloom of contentment. I don't want to wake but when I see his perfect face I'm grateful not mean, the outer points of his eyes and mouth, and his little fish teeth and redbrown color and the push of his solid clean eyes. I'm going daycare now? His voice thrills me, what kind of being has a voice like that. ("Please I want to go to Michael's house." His door thumping. I chase him back into the dark and lie down with him, hold his hand. He comes close with his spermy smell and licks my nose. "Why are you sucking my nose?" "I making you outside." "What do you mean" - imagining in a flash what he could be saying.


In the warm water thinking of the drama of computation finding its way. Something occurs, like my attachment to Rob, and the whole of the occurrence can be handled with one phrase (I saw a motion of the shift lever), and in anyone's time it is constantly being handled by other people's shift phrases, and when these shift phrases are incorrect what happens to the top of the pile. The overseer has to be correcting, and does, making allowance. And that's the drama of computation finding its way. The overseer being the oversight function. I see it as if coming from the other end, a top-down branching of generalization. Though it is not top-down but side by side. So what I mean is the shape sense as it did just now comes to meet the verbal sense and if the pile is crooked it can tell. Oversight is in the middle because it's seeing the overlaps.


How she's different from Le Guin - she's more physical, smells, bums, hands. This is the same territory as The dispossessed. Le Guin makes me cry, she's in cosmos; Gordimer's in the scrum, just delighting in the availability of every kind of moment. Le Guin beside her seems ethereal, but so close at heart. Gordimer is my garden politics, and I follow all the debate holding my breath. Women writing the political novels. Like Middlemarch, but how much more fluent a machine the novel is now. Gordimer and Lessing can write political novels because they've had a political existence; Le Guin writes stories about archetypal tyrannies but hasn't been in backrooms forming strategy out of coalitions of ego.

Alright what is the structure of this time. Tension, the time ahead, one moment everything's being aimed at.


Yesterday a piece in the East Ender, this morning CBVU. We're into it, says Muggs.


Terror yesterday at the welfare office when she threatens to cut off daycare. I'd better demonstrate some mental instability here. I'll give this child up for adoption if I don't have daycare. ROWEN DON'T DO THAT! genuinely and consciously.


What it's like is the flying heart - yes that's it - my heart flies to you. That means a sensation of having my chest open and having you somewhere at a distance being sighted by the opening.


It warned me of the moon. A stretched agony.

Yesterday afternoon John Parsons in a sane cycle came out of the bushes (with his bedding on his back) to court me in the garden. "I'm the impulsive sort of guy who likes to kiss a girl right away." "Never mind that!" "I know, that's why I have to go away now."

Small birds on the bok choy seed stalks, bees creeping upside down on leek flower balls, pheasant child beats up out of the grass and planes down as if already with the tail. Small birds say weep - no not really - untraducible. Cabbage whites flounder. Motherwort in spires. Oh the hollyhocks. Fireman's window scraper squeaks.

When I look at any of these plants I seem to see, if I give it a moment, a confidence that shocks me - like the borage with its arms out glazed in light.

5th August

I bragged of strategy but am finding what it is to not have endurance. I do one thing a day and stop. It's 20 days only. I can't face the tension.


Park Board with Muggs - CBC TV evening news - outside the board room mikes in my face, "Can we start again? I'm not used to having so many mikes in my face." KISS and CJOR. Something about seeing myself on the news a carefully spoken thin-faced woman with a young voice, fragile, not bossy and gusty as I feel. Sexy? No, lyrical.


Rob called from the leafpile. I jumped up in my red socks. There was a horse in the meadow, who stepped into the far ditch, or maybe ran into the red string, turned and bucked up the field, four times clicked his heels above his head. Rob at my shoulder. The horse turns at the top end and wanders back, browses in the wild edge. "It was like seeing a fairy."