Volume 4 of Raw Forming: 1965 April-September  work & days: a lifetime journal project  











In this short volume, the summer between second year at Queen's and a year in Europe. I hitchhike to Alberta with Rasheed Mohommed, make love for the first time in a hotel in Sudbury while we're on the road, afterward am in the Fraser Valley earning money for Europe for the rest of the summer.

Part 1 first time hitch-hiking, 3000 miles Kingston to La Glace, unrecorded month with my family, hitchhike with Rash to the Fraser Valley. Part 2 I catch up with that story. My sister Judy and brother Paul come to BC to work in the berry patch with me, all living at Dyck's cabins and sometimes going to stay with my mother's parents for weekends. Frank and I almost get through the summer keeping our hands off each other. In the end a depth opens under us.

Mentioned: Rasheed Mohammed, Susan Ksinan, Judy Epp, Paul Epp, Peter and Luise Konrad, Frank Doerksen, Thompson Transfer, Miller's Stationers in Edmonton, Al Lallier, Tim Lander, "I know I'll never find another you," Marie T Rasey It Takes Time: an Autobiography of the Teaching Profession, Mountolive, Borstal boy.


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 happy."

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.]

June 8

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 and quality.

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 you."

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 distant corners.

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.

June 26

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

- Oma.

[undated letter]

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 Traum ."


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 mother."

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 seducer.

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 prevent it.

August 4

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.

August 8


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 other.

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 worldly goods.

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.

September 13


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 Saturday.

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.