April 29 1965, Thursday
Taxi driver - "Hey, youse have three thousand miles to go!"
Three steeple jacks - 5:00 to Toronto. Three McCraies drinking beer from
tins. "I suppose you have to drink if you live dangerously." "You
don't know how true that is."
Friday April 30th
Toward North Bay.
Coming over the hill in Muskoka, trees still bare, glowing in grey and
red branches, billowing slightly like smoke, sculptured in finely textured
bursts of color.
Railroad man who rolls his own, railroad cap and soft brown skin, neck
pitted with deep holes, grizzled hair, leather jacket and plaid shirt. His
grandmother, when she was a little girl, traveled by canoe from Peace River
to Montreal, settled in Ottawa, Irish. Clear green eyes.
Trees, spruce, balsam, Jack pine, tamarack. White birches with red tips.
Good to spend days in companionship of adventure, nights in companionship
of tenderness. "I have only one rule - never drink, go to parties,
or make love when you're sad." "Are you sad?" "No, I'm
Red and blue lights flashing faintly on the wall, a hand holding a cigarette,
slanted over the side of the bed.
[Month with my family intervenes.]
Mother gave us our first ride, into La Glace, to the post office, to
wait for the mailman - Tuesday morning, bright and hot. La Glace looked
like any small town on the prairies, and the picture Mother took of us both
walking away with our bags could have been taken in many of the small towns
we passed through.
The mailman arrived, Rasheed kissed Mother goodbye quickly and we were
gone in a minute.
Dropped off at the corner with many good wishes and our five bags, we
picked up the trudging gait we knew so well by now, with the familiar pull
of the bags against our shoulders, and found an "Edmonton 282 miles"
sign to stand in front of. But both of us felt a little sad from our goodbyes
and we were in no hurry, so we sat down on the gravel shoulder with our
chins in our hands and talked about home. Rasheed was particularly sad to
leave. But after a while it seemed as though this was a direct extension
of our trip from Kingston, as though there had been no trip home and no
month in between. Rasheed was in his blue jeans and red shirt again, doggedly
wearing the red Queen's jacket even in the heat, and I was back in the baggy
blue jeans with a shirt, ragged black sneakers and Rash's red sweater.
After a while a new green car stopped for us, and a briefcase and business
suit on a backseat hanger said 'salesman' to us. But the middle-aged man
with his lank and pot belly, and kindly sensible face, was more than a salesman
- business president of Miller's Stationers in Edmonton and director of
the Alberta Stationer's Guild, he had entered the firm as a delivery boy
when he was sixteen. Now he vacations at Las Vegas and Bermuda; is widely
traveled and educated but retains the cautiousness and frugality combined
with kindliness that made him order a 35¢ hamburger for his lunch so
that he could charge our lunches to his expense account as well. Hard working,
he had been up since five and had made several business calls before leaving
Grande Prairie. He talked easily and well, and accepted our adventuring
as a natural and good experience for curious high-spirited youth. We liked
him very much and he seemed to like us as well. To us, he represented an
old-school type of Canadian - a shrewd business man who prospers on integrity
We approached Edmonton in the middle of the afternoon (an afternoon of
brilliant greens and blue skies in the Whitecourt-Valleyview bush).
Ted Nichols. Blond young man with an intelligent face, work clothes,
western supervisor for Standard California Oil, coming to visit the survey-exploration
crews. Explanations of technique and geography conditions of the area with
Rasheed and Ted enjoying each other's company and me asking many questions.
Ted was one of the most striking personalities of our trip - intelligent,
curious, intellectually energetic, successful and ambitious, more aware
of the problems and enjoyments of free-ranging travel than anyone we'd met.
We learned about sonic filters, seismograph equipment, $104 an hour helicopter
work, $1200 a month wages. We reached Obed at dusk, and after thinking for
a moment, Ted suggested that, since he had to go on to Hinton for the night,
we wait while he spoke to his crew and then go with him. There was a small
café - we sat in a booth and watched the oilmen flirt with a plump
fifteen year old, Rash piled in a huge meal (we'd chomped celery beside
the road) and I washed up thoroughly downstairs - Ted was busy making long
distance calls to far places and conferring with a striking Norse-looking
foreman with an extremely intelligent face - finally both came over to have
a cup of coffee - and insisted on paying for our meal, so that I wished
I'd ordered more. Then, pleasant surprise, the delightful foreman came along
on the ride to Hinton - dusk, excited conversation. The young foreman was
wistful about leaving the bush, getting married and civilized. We reached
Hinton and Ted asked around for a campsite - back half a mile on the road
to a huge pulp mill, under a hillside. They left us there, good wishes again,
and when the foreman shook hands with us I said, "When are you getting
married Ray?" He, "Looks like never but I wish I were coming with
Dark, scent of pines, lights and smoke of the pulp mill glimmering, the
hill rising mysterious, excitement of exploration, running among the campers
like children until we found three trees under the edge of the hill where
the pine needles were thick; and there were faint trails going up the hillside,
forest all around - got our sleeping bags and ponchos unrolled and spread
out by flashlight - I climbed the hill to the railroad tracks a hundred
yards up, very steep, panting and being excited to be sleeping out - the
lights and the hills across the valley were beautiful; rocks rolled somewhere,
I didn't sleep for a long time after sliding down the hill to the spot where
Rasheed was making camp tidily with the flashlight - remembered camping
at Miette with the family years ago. Strange contrast.
And in the morning - the mountains.
A hot uphill trudge to Hinton for breakfast. Finally, a café.
We put two quarters into the jukebox, and played our eight songs with toast
and Coke. A song that's followed us from Ontario to here is "I know
I'll never find another you." We heard it often in the cars across
Canada, and because one of the lines is "It's a long long journey so
stay by my side" and because we've become very close in spite of the
feuding, Rash and I play it again and again - a theme song for the recurring
sequences of standing and a pavement with the white line curving off around
June 25, Clearbrook
Two basics standing out clearly: my intense desire not so much to find,
as to make, myself (but both - echoes of Olivia, "You do everything
so consciously and deliberately") and my intense need for professionalism,
work and study under high motivation. The clarity of this need is greater
than it ever has been, and there is excitement even in thinking about it.
Walking in the back pasture here at Grandfather's farm, I passed a chipped
redwood stump and fern fields that I passed as a child and again with Frank
when I was sixteen - I thought about myth's relation to memory, and to memory
not only from childhood, but any memory put into words - memories have the
qualities of myth, emotional intensity; intensification of factual present
or present fact; realization of high mystery.
Sometimes even in the present, the high mystery is present: looking at
the tall acacia ("Akazie" in Grandmother's German) tree between
the garden and the road, leaves arranged so perfectly in light and dark,
the difference in color of the sky behind the tree and in front of it, light
and shadow moving on black limbs and trunk with its thick strong texture,
flowers at the top of the tree as light as the lightest leaves, perfection
of its shape and mystery of unseen roots and unseen circulating saps, incredible
to realize. Sculpture in the two mingled, blackened root stumps wrapped
in fern. Frank's face, hands, the line of his hair, the smooth skin on his
bare chest as he lies on the grass. Rasheed dancing over the gravel pile
with a water pail on each shoulder, narrow hips and long legs, whistling,
unaware of us at the window, of our delight. Unmoving Interpenetration,
tenderness and sweat drying cool.
For those of us who stand upon the margins of the world, as yet unsolicited
by any God, the only truth is that work itself is Love - Mountolive
- Sol vergebens Mond und Sterne
- Nicht an dir vorüber gehen
Grossma, by the way, is scandalized at my hitchhiking, and insists that
"Es ist nicht , nicht POLITE." "Ist nicht weiblich."
"Aber Grossma, ich bin nicht sehr weiblich." But we are
getting along beautifully, lots of jokes.
I miss Rasheed, you all must too. As we were waiting for his train to
come, he said to me, "Tell your mother I love her." I said, "You
tell her yourself." He, "I don't even tell my mother."
"All right, I'll tell her." He, "Good." Then his train
came, and we went through the doors with the mob and I went out and cried
a little bit and then walked through the city a bit and felt quite bereft
and then went home to Maitland Street to bed.
Grandma has baked zweibak and perushki, her intuition was blinking "I
think Mary is coming today" in many colored lights all day Saturday,
but by nine o'clock she had given up and gone to bed disgruntled. Grandfather
has a ten dollar bet on with her, that your last letter said "We can't
come" between the lines - you'd better come because Grandmother is
looking forward so anxiously.
Auntie Anne and etc Dycks went to Vancouver on Wednesday morning, with
tickets to New York on the Thursday night train. Grandma has followed them
with faithful fifteen minute interval reports from long before they left.
"Na, jetzt sind sie ..." The latest was two minutes ago - "Na
jetzt sind sie schon zu Hause. Werden zehr müde sein. Ist so wie ein
Sitting on the front lawn at Grandma's blissfully aware of our weekend
Good Life. Two weeks of the cabin and "handful of raspberry" meals
(Grandfather's quotation) have made the Madchenzimmer with its big window,
and the clean sheets, and the fresh flowers, and the MEALS an enveloping
bliss. We hug ourselves and grin and grin.
The picking life, early rising and bedtime, healthy fruit and vegetable
food, sunshine and wind all day, hard work, cold showers, are giving us
an enormous feeling of physical welfare. And the camaraderie, the stacks
of books from the library, the beauty of this valley, the weekend Gemütlichkeit,
give us the balancing mental-emotional welfare. We wish you could be here
with us. Grandpa is gleeful about winning the ten dollars from Grandmother,
but they're both disappointed that you won't be here this summer.
Most amazing of everything this year is the change in the grandparents
or me, but however, in the mutual relationship. Grandmother's fussing used
to irritate me, and I remember, at sixteen, resenting her concerns passionately.
Now - so thoroughly emancipated - I revel in being looked after a little.
Now I know when they're kidding and they seem to respect me.
Monday, July 26
Frank came tonight, in his baggy, strong work clothes and small beautifully
made leather boots, his face sharp, hair curled all over his head. He sat
on the table leaning his head against the sharp edge of the open window,
swinging one foot from the knee and bracing the other against a chair rung.
Hands loose but strong on his knees. In contrast was George with his red
face and the roll of fat around his chin, lethargic and tedious, slumped
in the chair. "I don't try to think into the future. Things change
too fast, things happen to you." "You have at least fifty percent
control over what happens to you" I said, thinking of Frank. And Frank,
getting up to leave, with no excuses, stopping at the door, said "Will
is like a flame. It keeps burning faster."
I had felt as though there was a substance, thin threads, connecting
my outline crosslegged on the bed to his on the table - points connecting
like a shadow stretched taut but elastic. I wanted to hold him. I felt myself
and still feel myself glowing toward him.
Rasheed. "I don't cherish people the way you do. Only a few. Your
Sudbury: at the hotel desk, shaking my head and murmuring polyglot syllables
meant to be Spanish, shaking my hoop earrings like a shy immigrant bride.
Excitement of the days hitchhiking from Toronto, memory of the childish
joy of the entire day (sun in Rosedale, beer and apple pie beside the road,
knees brushing in the front seat of cars, the black landscape of Sudbury).
The room at the end of the hall, opening the door with the old fun of ownership
for a day, a leap onto the bed, possessive and wifely tidying, the small
question simmering slowly in my mind. A bath, the question answered in the
mirror with a maybe. The brown shirt and panties wrapped round with a trailing
bedspread, unexpected reflection of the night staff's faces in a hall mirror.
Rasheed getting into bed nervously. The fun of my own timidity (very carefully
concealed!) at unwrapping the bedspread and sliding into bed.
Poignancy of the space between us, joy in remembering the day, spontaneity
of Rasheed's vehement push ("Go away! You smell like a woman.")
Dark and the neon flashing through a window, red and blue, washed out on
the plaster; cool air from the window.
Naturalness, excitement, curiosity, tenderness. The sensation of watching
with infinite care. The natural and joyful turning. Pain.
I felt none of the hostility of the seduced, only tenderness for the
The main impressions of pain and relief mixed with wonder at the lovely
intimacy of sex. I cherished the austerity of his profile, darker and more
Arabic than it had ever seemed, older and calmer, detached as he smoked
a cigarette and stared at the ceiling. His hand was silhoetted over the
edge of the bed, holding the cigarette, wrist thin and steady. We lay in
silence and companionship, the question answered.
Late at night we both woke miraculously. When I stirred he touched my
hip and I turned. When I said, in the day-after dreaminess of next afternoon,
"It was funny the way we both woke last night," he said "We
both knew what we wanted."
Rasheed is easy to love physically because he is earthy, natural, ardent,
and honest. I became as earthy, natural and ardent, and began to learn honesty.
I loved him for what he gave me. And because he was beautiful, very thin
and sinewy, dark-skinned with his long legs, large feet, round buttocks,
long torso, delicate wrists. Without his glasses his eyes are tangle-lashed,
dark, childlike. His mouth is perfectly shaped and finely outlined, he has
a scar on his lower cheek. I am excited by seeing his features tactually
and by the freedom to touch him.
Cherries bought for lunch and eaten on the floor - "Let's neck a
little." Long, deep, good kisses learned quickly with unexpected skill;
direct honest warm kisses I am excited to remember (kisses before were always
duds) and long like an adolescent to repeat.
The stories that spill from him one after another about Trinidad, his
father and mother ("They are always gossiping"), Affie, Sheraz,
Feroz, his boyfriends, his girlfriends, fishing under water off the north
coast, the prostitute whose services he arranged for his school underlings
(he was head boy) for 25¢ a throw, who repulsed him after he saw her
calmly eating a lunch sandwich while a schoolboy laboured over her. The
peeing contests in dark alleys. The bad days when he started school, too
old, barefoot, and unable to speak English. (I can see him little changed,
as dark and serious and as beautiful and as bitter). His father driving
a taxi, quoting Shakespeare to his tourist customers; his tall graceful
mother who, although unable to understand more than a little English, insisted
that the boys speak English to learn it. Evenings when Cyril would come
home and go to bed and gossip with his wife. ("I didn't understand
why he would get up and wash his hands in the middle of the night, when
I was younger.") Seduction by an older relative when he was fourteen.
Songs in Spanish and Italian - Volare and Guantanamera. Obscenity
and profanity in several languages, the singing polyglot of patois,
the childishness of his self-concern and need to impress, the beauty of
his flamenco. Stories of dancing in the nightclub for twenty dollars a night,
behind his mother's back, drinking in the well-cut suit furnished by the
club, of five dollar bills left under a pillow by a tourist woman. Suddenly,
scholarship, affluence, fame, and the strange Canadian society. The room
under Shurtleffs' slanting roof, the corner window over Barrie Street, two
houses down from ours, the December roll in the park with Olivia - the "bitter,
bitter, bitter" of so much money and so little happiness.
- Waking at Hinton, he saw the Rockies for the first time. Doukhobour
houses, rain with Murray, Jean and the old black Cadillac, and the nips
of apricot brandy. The CP depot in Vancouver, careful casualness of all
we said, the crowds around the departure gate.
"I think you better go now."
"All right, but..."
"Are you trying to lust here?"
The red Queen's jacket backing toward the glass doors as I stand to look
after him. The crowd moving away, funneling through the door past the trainman
(concern for correct procedure always - "Which ticket, which car, which
seat?") and drawing him with them, already gone when he was out of
sight. Both of us rigidly controlled now with me running off to cry at the
wire railing and he sitting down to write that first letter as soon as we
were out of sight of each other.
Tuesday August 3
Frank was here on Saturday night, lay on the ground beside me as we watched
the sky darken; after Valerie had gone inside, leaving her empty tea cup
with ours, we were self-consciously close physically and gropingly close
intellectually. I was aware of his compact body, as I always am, and I wanted
to move toward him. But "loved I not honour more" and unsureness
Picking has been good and we've had no more rain - last week was extremely
hot, with berry patch temperatures of up to 120 between the rows at Doerksen's,
and nineties in the shade. On Friday we picked from 6 a.m. straight through
to 2 p.m. rather than pick in the 2-5 swelter, then went to Abbotsford,
but even there nearly suffocated. At Frank's on Saturday we also picked
6-3 p.m. for our eight dollars worth. Thursday, as we were trickling and
steaming in the patch in the afternoon Grandfather dropped in with our mail
and Grandmother grinning wisely gave us a large brown paper bag with a jar
of chicken soup and another of mousse, bless her, warm still and I suspect
made especially for us! They were looking for drying apples in the area
of Mt Lehman Road and so they decided to come to see us. Sue, Judy and Paul
and I were overjoyed. Before they left, she looked at me crosswise and said,
"Du musst aber nich nackt herum laufen." And I looked down at
my damp toe to wrist to jeans and shirt modesty, "Aber ich bin nicht
..." But she said "Oh but I talked to a lady hoed in the beans
with you" (I had hoed in the bathing suit to get a tan and escape the
swelter), and then, Grandma fashion, she grinned.
Many things have been beautiful here - a heavy scent of evergreen oil
in the sun when the trees are clipped, color intensified by the brilliance
of the sun. Sunsets in purple and slashes of pink. Vast bright skies when
we sleep outside. Green apples on the Transparent tree in the orchard. The
evening when, still hot and sticky, the picker kids sat around on their
pallets outside behind the cabins in the shade and we listened to music,
read, looked at Baker, then became so energetic that we played leapfrog
violently, climbed the high spruce trees in swarms, had a tug-o-war, boy
against girls, and went through a mock-pagan rite in the honor of Mount
Baker that had Valerie and even the plump Brazilian mother rolling with
laughter. Paul, Judy, Sue and I initiated most of the action. Leapfrogged
with the four Brazilian boys and a couple of others, managed to break the
rope when hefty Louisa and her equally hefty little sister joined us on
the girls' side of the rope.
The Brazilian family, the Martens, are especially alive, real people.
The mother is very large, red-faced and cheerful. Her husband stays home
on the farm while she takes the three girls and two boys and varying numbers
of boy cousins to the patch with her. They work hard, go to bed early, keep
the kitchen spotless, eat more loaves of home-baked bread than I've ever
seen at one time. They're friendly, always singing and laughing, extremely
happy and well-behaved kids. I especially like Louisa who, at fourteen,
has an enormous round torso and a red face like the Campbell Soup Kids.
No vanity. Much wit and good sense and good humor. She seems boiling with
creative energy, and her one means of expression is through housekeeping,
which she does violently and ruthlessly, by herself, until the tacky cabin
kitchen is gleaming. She speaks some Portuguese and English but her comfortable
language is Plautdeetch and in Plattdeutch her expression is very succinct
and humorous. I wish I could reproduce some of it for you. In the patch,
she sings busily while she picks and although her voice has no finesse,
it is strong and tuneful, and she chooses beautiful songs. The whole family
knows many songs in both German and Portuguese, and many of them are non-religious
folk songs. For instance, while picking next to Mrs Martens one morning
I asked her if she knew the rest of the words to "Dich mein stilles
Tal, grüss ich tausend Mal" and she sang them all off with no
trouble. When I started to sing what fragments I knew of "Es waren
zwei König's Kinder," she picked up where I finished and her kids
joined her. They knew all the verses! They are generous people too, and
often bring us a cabbage or some carrots from their farm.
On Saturday night, or late evening, Frank came over, bareback and still
in work clothes. Valerie was on a mat outside with her radio, too, and took
a great motherly interest in him - gave him a blanket, insisted I get him
a pillow, and had a cup of tea with us as she told us war stories. By the
time she went in, it was dark and clear, so we had another cup of tea and
lay on our backs looking at the sky, talking. Much later, a taxi slunk onto
the yard and who should appear but Norman McLeod who'd come to spend the
weekend with me. Judy was off at Grandpa's but Paul was home so after we'd
all had another cup of tea and some raw carrots and talked for a long time
Frank went home and Norman got Judy's sleeping bag.
Sunday afternoon again, Grandmother's house, all warmth and civilization.
Judy and I were talking yesterday about the unrealized centuries of science
and even philosophy behind all the details of this one house and its comfort.
It bewilders us, many things do.
September 10, Friday afternoon
Sue, bent over a row of strawberries, said "Life is so full. It
keeps getting fuller."
Reading Borstal Boy in bed, thinking of the luxury of an O Henry
chocolate bar and drinking coffee from my green stoneware cup. There is
just enough light on the top bunk to read comfortably, the hotplate is glowing
in red concentric circles, the flowers in the milk bottle reflect the reds
and oranges of the painting above them, and the Van Gogh Road with Cypresses
is reflected in the mirror above my row of books. Like Robert Frost, "clearing
a space around me between myself and infinity," I love the order I
create as he loves his poetry.
Beyond this fullness is the independent fullness of other good things
- Susy herself, selfish, curious, garrulous and intent on every molecule
that reaches her. The Schumann A Minor Concerto on our static riddled old
radio. The sun sometimes clear and wide open, sometimes a closed flat pink
disk seen through the smoke, just off center in a tall photograph of the
fence posts disappearing down Boundary Road. The faces of the Hindus on
our broccoli crew, especially of Suarn smiling; of the old man Shif, long
beaked face and emaciated body, the white beard curled under and the new
bluejeans almost flat on his body; Jornel smoking his decrepit cigarette
delicately, through his ragged hand; Farmir squatting on the wagon with
the red sun wild beside his wild face. The unbelievable two-colored shiny
green of each dandelion leaf in the space behind my door. The flat valley
seen from the road just east of Mt Lehman, with evergreen and mountains
rimming it sharply. Fields of brussels sprouts rising in swells all around,
in a fused mosaic of greens and blues, and the pairs of white butterflies
darting across them. The sweat and exhileration of being pushed to what
seems the limit of physical effort topping sprouts. Challenge and exuberance
of striking off silent communication (like sparks) with Eric. The airport
lights scattered and changing in many colors. Elizabeth Ksinan like an arrogant
Italian pageboy, swarthy, slight and strong, dark-eyed. Susy dancing in
edge-of-the-beat tautness, her luxurious skin and sensuous body. Nights
of hard rain, or red moons, or stars, or the satellite moving graciously
and confidently from south to north. "Escaping from metaphysical bombardment
into physical bombardment" by sleeping outside and staring at the constellations
for a long time.
Then Friday night. Frank came and said goodnight. "I have a feeling
I may never see you again." The sadness, all evening, of the distance
between us. ("Tell me - why are you so sad" on Wednesday night,
and my blurted answer, "Loneliness. The old universal." "I
don't know anything. Sometimes it is like a cry in me," he said; "We
can talk, but always I feel this undercurrent of loneliness. My older friends
tell me that when I have blood ties with a child or a woman the sharpness
will go away. But I don't think so.") The surprise of his remark as
I ran around the corner to get his tea: "The back of your neck isn't
very tanned," and my lighthearted answer covering my joy at the knowledge
that he desired me. Sudden embrace by the steps, reluctance becoming abandon,
long long kisses and the sweetness of his arms and shoulders, the side of
his face again. We were cold, and went back to my cabin, stared at each
other, both reached for the light cord at the same time, and lay under the
quilt with the hotplate on next to our heads, naked, committed to recklessness,
happy and confidential. "I'm glad it was you." Near dawn I ran
outside to the toilet and came back, naked, into his arms to say goodbye.
"The human body is a beautiful thing. And skin." I was bursting
with joy because I had given myself to Frank at last and because of his
wonder at being made a lover for the first time. The light was red on the
outlines of my body, and we held each other in a vacillation between passion
and incredulity. How beautiful he is.
Sunday night we had each other for the first time, again and again, slowly
and joyfully, with all our motions slowed and tightened to almost a dance,
lovemaking smoothed off by the force of how much we loved each other. Even
remembering, my stomach tightens.
Tuesday night, his knock and the reflex-quick happiness at seeing each
Saturday, September 11
I've a free afternoon to write in. Yeah, Judy, finked off on Eric today
when I looked at the cold wet foggy dew this morning. Susy stayed in bed
with Mila 18 and some plum sauce.
Please fetch me from Grande Prairie bus depot Monday the 20th at 7:10
a.m. or whenever the Edmonton bus arrives there. I'm leaving for Edmonton,
CNR, on Saturday after work. If you can't make it, phone a message to the
station agent and I'll hitchhike or something. I'll have to leave for Edmonton
again on the Wednesday night bus, and from there to Kingston, New York,
and on Tuesday 10 p.m., to Luxembourg where I'll arrive 3:00 p.m. Wednesday
for a short train ride to Strasbourg. No steamer trunk, Mother, for my few
Grandmother has been nagging me to stop work and go home now, and begad!
how sick I am of broccoli. But the truth I haven't told Grandma is that
there's still one week of Frank to be stretched out. Judy told you how our
lovely emotional control lasted so well and rigidly all summer and then
exploded at the thought of summer's passing? In the debris (some of it beautiful)
of that explosion is another agonizing parting in a long honorable lineage
of honorable agonizing partings. If I were not so stubborn I would throw
up my hands, stop defying woman's fate, marry him in a moment. He's a difficult
man to forget. Strasbourg will be a consolation.
Clearbrook Rd, 12 Sunday
Disturbed last night by a telephone call and visit from Frank. When he
left at 10:30, there sat Grandfather in his spectacles with his finger ready
to point. "Jetzt sag' mir mal, was für eine Verbindung hapt ihr
beide?" As I was stammering in ungrammatic circles and Grandfather
was going on to tell me that, if we didn't have marriage in prospect, what-the-heck
were we up to, and if we did, we'd better forget it because "ihr
passt nicht zuzammen," Grandmother, to my delight, sprang up in my
defense with her evening pigtail on end, diverting Grandpa by bringing the
conversation back to him, side-tracking him with irrelevancies, teasing
him, laughing at him, running mischievous circles around his earnest little
warning. And besides, "Na, ich weiss nicht. Der Frankie gefällt
mir." I loved her! Grandpa didn't have much of a chance so I wrapped
up my argument very humbly with a Grandpa-ism, "Na, Grosspa, die Sache
ist die: wir haben ihnen vom Schlafen gehalten, und dafür bin ich sehr
sorry." And when I'd gone to bed I heard him, in the bedroom,
reproaching her for interfering. "Aber Papa, du fingst so böse
an." Schluss and gute Nacht. Then they said their prayers.
This morning Grandpa said good morning a bit anxiously, wondering if
I was beleidicht and not speaking, and when I wasn't he was so relieved
he made up another Kartoffeln joke: like elephant jokes, his jokes about
my legendary love of potatoes are mostly a bit wacky, but he makes up three
or four a day, whenever he wants to be friendly to me.
Last night his knock woke me from a quilt-wrapped sleep over my Spanish
book. There he is on the doorstep in his green work clothes, with night
around him in the doorway; smiling, with a bag of grapes to split with Susy.
"We have always been at home with ourselves, with each other,"
I said and felt his nod rather than saw it. "It doesn't happen with
very many." "I don't expect it to ever happen again," he
said. "Isn't that a bit bleak?" "The gods aren't generous
twice." Today the thought of never-twice, for me and for him, is not
softened by his presence; and life without him - what seems years of trying
to return to what he is and what I have with him - has a very sharp edge.
My sensitivity has grown in the last month: I think of Grandmother being
old, I think of Mother becoming old, I think of the never-twices I will
always long for, and I'm afraid. I see the shaking of the poplar tree above
the cabin roof (turning gold) and I'm frightened. The sudden realization
of far distant past, of "thought's the slave of life and life time's
fool" (all from reading about the persistance of the Old Spanish "y"
in the modern "hay"!) frightens me. The thought of Frank changed,
me changed, and of all the time and good beautiful things and painful things
that we won't be able to tell each other about, frightens me.
I am happy that we've slept together these two weeks; it is a debt paid,
a declaration for the present, something definite to look back on.
"But in spite of my butchered reputation, you do know that this
with you isn't light, for me? That is very important to me." He was
quiet so long that I touched his face to question him. "Just stay in
my arms for a while."
After a while we lay on our backs together and ate all the grapes in
the bag. I spit my seeds onto the floor beside the bed and he swallowed
his. We were giddy. Then he talked about the children he'll have, the tall
sons. "What are you laughing at, my tall sons?" "And my daughter's
pretty legs." "She will have pretty legs, I'm sure she will, she
is sure to," he said very seriously. I cried. He gave me his hanky.
I soon stopped, but the giddiness was gone and we were forced to think of
He laughs wonderfully, at me and at himself, quietly and warmly, with
his face and his body focused into the laugh. His body - strongly muscled
but rounded-off, shoulders and arms, sinewy forearms, delicate hipbone,
soft genitals, rounded-square buttocks, soft warm skin. I take an inventory.
He lit a match to find his t-shirt, and his face and bare chest, with
his hands around the match, are a picture I'll remember. With it I'll remember
his picture of me lying in bed watching him dress.
Tuesday, Sept 14
"Do you remember that night you came to see me with George? I felt
very close to you that night."
"I felt as though we were on the inside and he on the outside."
Thursday September 16
This morning was bright, very cold, and very windy. Mount Baker is covered
with fresh snow and it, with the other mountains, glistens as it never has
all summer. This afternoon while I was driving tractor on the broccoli field,
a long trail of smoke came from Harrison Lake, between the mountains, and
spread west toward the coast shutting off the sun and giving the light an
odd yellow look.
Last night the moon was frozen in a hoary pale sky and it was so cold
that when I ran out to the toilet naked I was chilled through. Frank warmed
me quickly by wrapping me around in his arms. When we were hungry we ate
the two bananas he brought. We talked about the different levels of our
life, and of the one level of fear and uncertainty that few speak of and
how many? experience. His sensitivity is painful; his uncertainty, agony.
He needs a "point of life" as I do not need one yet. He is tortured
even physically by his own purposelessness. Yet he is strong, serene, uncompromising,
unwilling to pick up a cheap "point" that would give him peace.
"I don't think I'll ever need one that badly." ("She shall
not kiss that harried man to peace.") His pain isolates him even from
me. I understand the horror of questions swirled in echoes through the mind
at night and the need to escape the smothering confusion of words into the
explosion of mind into infinite starry space. I understand the stabbing
need for a reason. But I cannot invent one for him, nor can I create peace
in that last level of his mind as I do in others.
The same ghost continuing through my life - the other, embodied, shaped,
colored, moving. My continuing shyness, sometimes fear, sometimes loneliness.
Bodies which are large, ugly, soft, blunt, make me fearful and disdainful.
I fear them because they're a large dominant class to which I may belong.
Bodies which are sharp, graceful, hard, which cut a definite dominating
shape in my space cow me because they make me seem at once indefinite and
definite but grotesque. What to be done with bodies and being intimidated
by bodies, clothes, shoes; expressions and gestures; talk, opinions, wit,
argument; smiles, tones of voice. Self-rejection in rejection of ugliness.
Bodies with their lines, colors of clothes, materials moving of themselves,
speaking and laughing, ironically self-possessed or persuasive or drawn
up asserting themselves against me although not looking at me or speaking
to me. (Even more because in speaking to me a hard body sometimes grows
less resistent - and I feel triumph or hope, but distain.)
Globe and Mail September 15 1965
Two Children's Centre Officials Suffocate in Fire near Kingston
KINGSTON - Two female officials of the Sunnyside Children's Centre suffocated
when fire broke out in their home about eight miles from Kingston on Saturday,
but the screams of one of them saved the life of a male guest in the home.
New York, Tuesday
Loneliness and apathy at the thought of going to Europe. The continuing
need to dig down into my life and catch it at the roots (like grass, the
leaves above the surface sway). Rasheed in Kingston, Frank in Aldergrove,
Don and Olivia. The sadness of Judy's deception [it turned out she slept
with Rasheed] and of Joyce Detweiler's death are sharper than joy, and yet
not sharp enough.