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Agent orange…

August 28, 2010

As you watched,

their pattern reminded you of something else you’ve seen before,

out of the eyesight of the watchful nuns…

Your own people gathering in summer to celebrate an easy season,

a tradition they carried on despite the stern words of the wemistikoshiw church…

You stared at these birds dancing in the snow,

the sunlight reflecting it in thousands of tiny ice crystals…

You saw in their movement,

the movement of your own people as they traveled from winter to summer,

to winter again,

dancing through the years…


I may have already said this,

but when Starshine and Little Gem were babies,

people would look at my dark hair and ask me,


Where did you get those blond babies from???

Defying surface genetics,

rather than saying we have origins in Norway,

and other places we don’t yet know of,

I would say back,

looking down at my belly,

This is the kind that I make…

Starshine has taken to asking me,

when she finds me embarassing,


why do you have to be so interesting???

and I have to tell her,

That is how Spirit made me…

I got an e-mail from a neighbour this week,

asking me if I could write a character reference for her,

and her partner…

She is in her 70’s,

he in his 80’s,

and they have been given notice that the new owners of their rental property seek to renovate,

and occupy…

My neighbour used the word eviction,

and is challenging the action,

claiming the effort is too much for their tender years…

I found this request ironic,

considering I told her three years ago that I was ready to leave,

that I’d packed my boxes,

and have been in a state of preparation for departure,

at a moments notice…

The small part of me wondered why everyone else gets to go,

when I’m the one who wants to,

until I remembered all of the gold mining I’ve been able to do,

in the waiting…

I want to support her,

but a part of me sees the bigger picture,

of a possible paradise,

calling them elsewhere…

Starshine told me a few years ago,

while brushing her hair before bedtime,

that when principals hate their jobs,

it means the universe has other work for them,

and they are refusing to listen…

The same could be said for those holding onto relationships,

which have run their course…

When you get to the eighteenth hole,

the game is over…

There may be time for a beer in the clubhouse,

but after you get to the bottom of the glass,

the courteous thing to do is to shake hands and say,

Thank you,


enjoy the rest of your journey…

Sometimes we don’t recognize the last hole of the game,

or realize that when we start back at the beginning,

we’ll likely be playing with a different team,

for different adventure…

When I go back to visit my old school,

the parents ask me,

Are you coming back to us???

To be the principal???

I tell them that as hard as it was to say goodbye,

close the door,

and walk away,

after seeing their children grow right before my very eyes,

and new ones on their way,

There are children waiting somewhere else,

and I need to go to them,

following the invisible red thread that may stretch or tangle,

but never break…

Last night,

after a day of sewing in my house,

Starshine, Little Gem and I got in our red canoe,

and paddled upstream for wonton soup…

There were fresh new leaves floating on the broth…

The air outside was cool,

scented with ghosts of the evergreen forest,

hiding under pavement…

It felt like camping,

and fishing…

The cob-house sitting under the Skytrain tracks,

beside the children’s playground,

in the community garden,

holding secrets of tomorrow…

He ale ehu aku kena…

This morning I walked down my street,

to get some buttermilk for buckwheat pancakes…

Milk bottles rattled in my metal carrier,

turning the heads of those I passed,

sitting on benches,

in the early sunshine…

I saw a neighbour packing a trailer for Burning Man,

in the alley…

He had lived across the street fourteen years ago,

when I moved into this house…

At the time his young dog Nass was the only dog in the neighbourhood,

who could handle the size,

and intensity,

of my young dog Sam,

because he was a handful…

We’d spent many a rainy night standing in the mud of the park,

while our dogs growled,


and tumbled in the darkness…

After he’d moved away,

I’d run into him from time to time,

always with a different woman…

Now he was back,

and seemed settled,

in a more permanent relationship…

But who am I to know…

This morning I asked him if he dreams…

He looked at me,



I had one a few weeks ago…

In the dream, I woke up from a dream…

You know it was complicated,

like a dream inside a dream…

He wondered,

Why are you asking,

Do you have dreams???

I told him about one of the ten I woke up from this morning…

The dream about the house which was renovating itself…

And how every morning that I woke up in it,

there was a new room full of baby furniture,

and hand-made baby clothes…

I told him that when people in this neighbourhood get a sign that it is time to move on,

they need to…

To make way for all of the babies that want to come home…

The ones who need to return to where they came from,

for a happier ending…

He looked at me…

I told him,

You can see why I don’t need to go all the way to Nevada to see art installations,

for excitement…

I just go upstairs and fall asleep…

In the long process of separation from the father of my children,

I held onto a hope…

A hope that one day,


even though,

we were caught in a storm of rights and wrongs,

the two of us could sit together,

at a barbeque,

each with more complementary partners,

enjoying the fact,

that we had done well in raising the children we have been gifted with,


And that we would have found some peace with each other…

Friday night,

a week ago,

I was at a Third Beach gathering,

hosted by my children’s father,

and their step-mom…

I enjoyed meeting the community that they have created together,

because this community supports the growth of our children…

I overheard the lawyer who notorizes the necessary letters of permission,

we are required to carry,

for proof of the parents,

when we travel individually with our children,

talking about how he is working on the federal salmon inquiry…

An inquiry into where all of the salmon have gone…

I sat there,

holding in my peanut gallery comment,

about this one being a no-brainer,

and wondering how much money was being sucked analyzing this question…

While I was in the store this morning,

waiting for my weekend latte,

I read a headline,

about how the Fraser River is choked full of sockeye…

The biggest run this province has seen in 100 years…

Statistics making mincemeat out of science,

and rationality,

as we know it…

I giggled.

for the fun of it all…

I’ve come to take you home… (photo: Starshine)

You saw for the first time the circle…

Even though you could not yet express it in words,

you understood the seasons,

the teepee,

the shaking tent,

the wigwam,

the fire circle,

the matatosowin…

You saw all of life is one circle,

and realized that you have always come back,

in one way or another,

to where you have been before…

Thank you,

Mr. Three Day Road…

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