Above the cacophony of a whirlwind trip to Saskatchewan, home finds me pondering an unexpected gift. One uninterrupted day, spent not with an 80 year old blind woman, but with Margaret – poet, author, artist and philosopher, who happens to be my mother. Her poem Case Histories languished in faded mimeograph purple, forty years of solitary card-board box confinement. A sheet of yellowing paper atop hundreds of short stories, poems and drawings. “Read it to me” she said, “I wrote it without punctuation”.
I cant stand this too splendid too pale believe me Ill leave him I mean it all this marble this alabaster these pearls these sly opals winking weak colors through their milk the food we eat pale splendid food white asparagus tips bleached almonds blanched endive shoots seedless grapes fiddlehead ferns like pale green fetuses on porcelain plates ugh he would faint if he knew how I feel he is so pale and splendid he wont give it a thought his fine chalky hands his long slender back his high arched nose his buttercup hair did you know his hair is thinning what a joke mine is black and thick as ever funny it shames me I tie it up in this snood cant do a thing with my red ladyapple cheeks I frighten him he would like to coop me up my crystal case take me out every six months for that butterfly brush he calls a kiss he is the sick one strokes that fool milk eyed steed leans dreaming against its flank splendid pale
and so I do not think I will ever have a child what will I do what will I do my mother had a trick with a needle prick prick prick snow ebony blood and presto she had me Ive tried it nothing so far I hate embroidary
not a little girl I want a little boy nut brown hair russet skin dark merry eyes blunt hands sturdy legs blustery laugh yes yes yes I know where this comes from what of it
in my dreams Im in the forest the cottage glows with lamplight Im cooking vegetables decent turnips in an iron pot roasted potatoes chickpeas gravy a haunch of venison all juice blackberry wine mulled cloves cinnamon nutmeg the little men come in hooded happy I bend for their rough kiss beards tickle breath warm innocent they open their pockets rubies garnets sardonyx hematite cairngorm all still in the matrix all unpolished all glinting
oh doctor I was rich the night dark as amethyst the firelight like toast no sign of the witch no sign of the prince
Margaret waits til I finish then asks me to keep her writing when she’s gone. “I know you’re the one person who’ll appreciate it”. I’ll make sure nothing happens to it, but believe me – my appreciation has company.