A poem for all my girls (and you know I fucking hate poetry but I’ve been listening to way too much Patti Smith so I figured, what the hell, I’ll give it a shot.)

Each one of us is silent
and brilliant

as light on the water.

only the modern click clacking of keys
makes elegies
on computer screens

of times right now
of times gone by

of the pain in our hearts
and planes in the sky

the things that make us laugh
and the things that make us cry

a screen is a blank and empty place
(like distance)
a screen is a canvas
for wisdom unborn

for wisdom that ferments like wine
then open and drunk
sweet to our lips
when we casually dine

with the spouses we doubt
or the jobs we despise

or the friends we hide
or harbour inside

or all the blank pages
we can never seem to fill…

just remember

that we are a legend

we wrote together

we have our own song
to sing each alone
in the attics of our minds

but each voice echoes
twists around corners
navigates, negotiates

and together makes chorus

resonating
reverberating
reuniting
online.

Lying/Dying in a Field

Oh great, I think, the first time in thirty years that I’ve actually been alone – like *really* alone – and I’ve got a crow hovering around me. How symbolic.

I’m away on a cliché escape to a cabin in the woods, finding myself, because apparently I’ve been missing. Now why do we think we have to go somewhere brand new – somewhere where we don’t recognize a thing, where we can’t even locate a flashlight to help us to the toilet – to find our selves? I don’t know, but I promised myself I’d try.

Or maybe it’s not so much missing as it is knowing. I have a body that comes everywhere I go, but I’m learning that I know very little about it… and though I’m in it, living every second, I’m missing every second. I’m not present. I’m not here. I’m not now.

I live in my head, and I love with my heart, and that combination has proven to be fallible of late.

So I’m away, trying to find peace, and all I can fucking hear in my head is caw, caw, caw…

I know enough about Native literature to know that crows are not only shapeshifters, but also commonly thought to circle above scenes of death. I look up at the crow hovering in the tree above me and say out loud, (in my best Monty Python voice) “I’m not dead yet.” But he doesn’t leave me alone. I try not to think about foreshadowing.

Crows are also known to symbolize a guardian, and a sort of guide from darkness into light, so I feel as though I kind of have to let him hang around. Lord knows I can use all the help I can get to find some sort of clarity these next few days.

So I’m outside with my journal, hashing it out with my conscience and an acorn hits me square in the crown of my head. Bastard hit me on purpose. I look down and my writing to find some sort of significance – did I get hit on the head with an acorn to drill in a point? Like the exact moment when Einstein discovered gravity? “My parents just moved,” is all it says on the page. No symbolism there.

So Joe the Crow, as I call him, caw, caw, caws all afternoon. I go inside the cabin and cook a dinner I can’t even taste, and when I come out, he’s still there. So I decide to walk the grounds of this place, and Joe the Crow follows me. Just as I’m walking up a hill, he starts to dive-bomb me.

There is nobody on this “resort” – a few empty cabins next to a river. The only other person I’ve seen was when I pulled in with the car: a little girl of about five who stood beside the car as I pushed a button for the convertible roof to cover up. As it moved by itself, she watched in awe, “Wwaaaaahhww”.

She had a little dog. There are more dogs. Big huskies, and a few mutts. I think there is an accountant in the office, but on the phone, before I came, I told them to leave the key out and charge my credit card. I’m not here to make friends.

I walk up a small hill and try to hover underneath a tree, and Joe the Crow basically tries to kill me. I rock back and forth with both hands over my head, trying to shut out the piercing caws, which just amplify the other harsh sounds in my mind. You should have been honest. How are you going to forgive yourself? How the fuck do you think you can go on from here?

And then I see her. She’s breathing, but barely, and very slowly. She makes no attempt to move away from me. Most likely because she can’t, but I appreciate her motionlessness. She’s stuck. Like me.

Joe the Crow nails me on the head again with a twig from the tree that is covering me and his friend. Maybe his daughter, or her daughter, or son… Can you tell a crow’s gender? I don’t know.

“I’m not going to hurt her,” I say to Joe the Crow out loud, “I’m going to stay with her. I’m going to sit here with her until she dies.” I turn my attention to this little black, helpless thing, move closer so that we’re a mere foot apart (to the disgust of Joe the Crow), and I talk with her. I don’t know if it was out loud or not, but some part of me has to believe that she can understand me.

I will be with you when you die. I will show Joe the Crow that I won’t hurt you. I will shoo the flies away from you.

She doesn’t seem scared, but I am. She has a passiveness about her – a sense of calm, maybe – the kind I imagine you get before you die. Hopefully. But she doesn’t die. I sit with her for an hour and a half, and she just breathes and tries to move but can’t and Joe the Crow is going crazy and this little thing is my responsibility now, so what do I do? Nothing.

Actually, no. Not nothing. I take pictures. I fucking take pictures of a dying crow, because I think she’s the only thing that can feel as bad as I feel right now. Well, me and one other person, but this is one trip I’m taking alone, and I can’t let my focus break away from the purpose of this trip: to work on my self. Not the you-fucked-everything-up self, but the self that can actually learn and grow. It’s here somewhere.

Night falls and I get scared, so I leave Joe the Crow and his fallen friend. I actually pray. To whom, I don’t know. Please let the dogs eat her tonight.

I spend the next day secluded in the 200 square foot cabin, the faint caw caw caws not so faint. It’s not until seven at night, when I reluctantly go out for air, Joe the Crow is right there again. She must be dead, I think. But she isn’t. She’s about twelve feet away from where she was over twelve hours ago. The dogs didn’t get her. Now she just has more flies climbing on her. She blinks to shoo them off. That’s the only thing she can do.

I tell a boy who walks down the path to ask if someone can help. He looks at me with a that’s-just-a-common-crow look, says yes and then runs down to the river with his fishing rod. I don’t know why, but I don’t do anything. I don’t try to find anyone else. I don’t call wildlife rescue (it’s a crow… do they take in crows?). I don’t do anything except sit there, with Joe the Crow above and the little crow beside me, and I cry. She’s in pain and she can’t do anything about it. The symbolism finally fits.

I’m lying motionless on the grass, broken, fading, with nowhere to go. I want to give up. The only difference is, I don’t feel anyone above, a guardian, watching down on me.

Stanley Park is part of MY past, too

Today a Facebook friend posted an article, “Stanley Park is part of our past, too,” published today in the Vancouver Sun and written by someone who somehow didn’t have the nerve to include a byline (or an obvious one, if it’s there somewhere).

This article really struck me. And yes, I’m oversensitive and generally avoid newspapers because of this quality, but this made me equally sad and angry and made me want to say “Fuck you” to the writer. Fuck you for being such an ignorant, insensitive asshole. Fuck you for not having the courage to put your name on this. Fuck you for speaking for me. Fuck you for making me not only look bad, but feel badly about something that I don’t even agree with. (And fuck you for eliciting a childish stream of fuck yous from me, which I am openly sharing with the world under my real name.)

I’m not an expert on aboriginal issues or an activist or even that knowledgeable about the Coast Salish who originally lived off of our land. But I recognize that this lack of knowledge is something that I should not only be aware of but should also be ashamed of. I also recognize that differences between western concepts of “knowledge” and “learning” and aboriginal concepts of “knowledge” and “learning” present barriers for me — a non-aboriginal — to know and learn more about Coast Salish culture and history. Depending on who you talk to, it may or may not be my business (and I respect whichever opinion).

Not only have I lived my whole life in Vancouver, my ancestors at least as far back as my mother’s great grandfather also have, and on this side of the family I am 12th generation Canadian. This means that I, in particular, have something at stake in the argument being made in this article.

My grandma has told me stories about going on dates with my grandfather to Stanley Park. When I go there I imagine them there, young and in love and looking out at the same ocean that I am also mesmerized by. Stanley Park is also a part of my history.

However, this does not mean that I have a right to completely disregard the attack on aboriginal culture that was probably instigated by my very own ancestors. It doesn’t mean that I have a right to dictate what constitutes acknowledging the past. It doesn’t mean that I get to say what is or isn’t a true representation of aboriginal culture in Stanley Park (I haven’t looked into this, but the questions I would ask would be: (1) Was the aboriginal community involved in putting in the aboriginal components of the park? (2) Do they feel it represents them? (3) Do they think it is enough? (4) Do they feel acknowledged?). And, yes, I was just theying, which is a danger in itself and part of the problem and complexity of the issue.

Maybe the writer’s point was that it is time to shift to a we mentality. However, this is what he or she says:

Canada’s history has many narratives. The first nations say their story dates back 10,000 years. Europeans arrived here just 500 years ago. Neither narrative is more valid than the other.

So is the argument: Neither is more valid than the other so let’s just completely disregard the first nations’ story because Europeans are here now? Let’s claim their language is impossible to pronounce and therefore clearly not marketable!

Yes, we need to shift to a we mentality. However, this is extremely complex and requires a lot more respect and acknowledgment and participation from the aboriginal community. The entire argument is actually a rally for completely disregarding aboriginal culture (by simply posting up a plaque to “solve the problem that first nations were here first”), under the guise that this is creating a unified culture.

We don’t yet know what a unified, we culture looks like. The closest we’ve come is the current, still very white-patriarchal version of multi-culturalism. Admit that this is complex. That there is no easy solution. That — heck — this might even be too idealistic.

But please, don’t be so blind as to think (and so stupid as to say — in a PUBLIC, WIDELY DISTRIBUTED NEWSPAPER) that by supporting the status quo you are somehow supporting cultural inclusivity.

This newspaper article is not only a joke, but it is also only one perspective. My blog post is also only my perspective. Please consider that each individual — whether they identify as aboriginal or Canadian or whatever — has a completely different perspective, experience, and belief system and don’t let any of these stories speak for an entire group of people. This may be the first step in moving from they to we.

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PS To the ladies of Hello. I miss you., sorry for turning “Wordless Wednesday” into “RANT Wednesday.”