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15 Questions

In an effort to not be completely depressing all the time, I thought I’d post a sunny poem. This is a found poem, made mostly from the delightful language of 15 year old people on a summer getaway. It makes me happy to think of these creatures and what their lives might become. I hope it makes you happy too.  xo ~ tara

If you could get half a dog, which half would you get? What if cars were just boats and nobody knew? Did you just make a noise and scare yourself? Don’t wreck my jam. I just spit in your jam and stirred it around and now you have spit jam. Want to play baseball? It’s hard with acrylics. Where did you go? I just started running and then it was too embarrassing to stop running so I just kept running. It’s 11am in my books. You don’t even have books. I have read books in the past. When I was little I thought jambon was french for hamster. One time I thought I could fly so I tied a rope around my waste and jumped off the deck. If you thought you could fly why did you tie a rope? Who just mastered this whole toasting thing?  Who knew the sun was up so early? It’s 11:45. Oh. I thought you were loading the car? We were but then Abba started. Can somebody please design a bathing suit that doesn’t show your whole vagina? Exactly, nobody wants to see that. I can’t even snorkel, my body rejects it. We’re gonna get up at 3am and dig for clams. No, we’re gonna stay up til 3am and dig for clams. We’re not gonna dig for clams are we? There’s something about looking at a fish and then looking at your friend who just looked at the same fish. Why are you in such a weird mood? You gave me too many jelly beans.
Did you know you have some salad in your teeth? That’s okay, it’s whitening my smile. I have a piece of hay in my shoe, do I look like a real cowgirl? Can I be in your story? You were in my story before stories were even a thing. My cheeks are basically leather. Where did you guys go? We were just sitting in a random field. Sorry we’re late, there was a guerrilla in the road and it was really scary. It wasn’t actually a guerilla. No, it was a werewolf. Why do you need expensive shoes if you never wear them? I’m gonna wear them to your house. You look like Gerald from Finding Dory. I’ve never been more abused in my life. What did you bring? I didn’t bring pants. They’re scrapping, I’m not going in there. It’s okay, they’re out of breath now. There’s always just old ladies having raffles. I’ve got cinnamon buns for everyone! Awe, that’s so nice of you. That’s the only nice thing I’m doing all week, the rest of the time, fuck ‘em. Everything’s more funny when you lie on your stomach. Do you need a bandaid on your toe? No, I don’t. Wait, is that how Bob Marley died? Yup. Okay, hit me up. I just don’t get how the whole ocean moves up and down? We’re havin’ a low and somebody on the other side of the world is havin’ a high.


*phrases pharmed with permission from Jemma, Sophie, Seli and Lyla.

– Hornby Island, Summer 2018.


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Today is Holden’s twenty-fifth birthday. There is cold potato where my heart should me, my throat has forgotten how to swallow, and once again my brain cannot make sense of this. There should be balloons, there should be cake. I want his name  spoken, his face touched and his laugh heard. I want him here, and because that is not possible, I want him present in whatever way he can be conjured.

I imagine birthdays past. Cupcakes and blue icing on cheeks, water guns soaking hair, laser tag all sweaty and smiling, slip and slide in the backyard, the coveted Complete Calvin and Hobbes Collection; the shouts and laughter. A summer birthday has fewer guests and more outdoor fun. As he got older, new cel phones, clothing, dinners out, a trip to New York, a case of Ichiban noodles and that first legal beer. I recall practical gifts for a burgeoning new adult life.  Continue Reading →

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Three Years

Canada Day long weekend is a rough one for me, for our family. There is a building heaviness like the whump of low pressure before a storm. The rain and mercury sky make perfect sense.  July 3, 2018 will mark 3 years since Holden left us and continued on his journey. There is a deep ache in the soft-quiet place where he should be.

I’ve been trying to remember Holden in ways that are not associated with photographs. There must be more than these rows of squares. The rewatching of a glance or a touch or a word with no visual reference to hold it. Today I’m envisioning the last time I saw my son. He is standing in the doorway of our kitchen saying something ordinary like ‘see ya later.’ The top of his head nearly reaches the door jam and his smiling cheeks, above the auburn scraggle of a beard, are light pink. I can see his green eyes and hear his deep voice vibrating in the air between us and re-know how grateful I was to have him so close and solid.  Continue Reading →

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He Died the Second Time

When a friend delivered the brown cardboard banker’s box from the Vancouver Police  evidence warehouse my reflex was to tear the lid off and see if my son was inside. Or rather – –  what of my son was inside. There must be something in that box to explain it all. 

Summer light spilled in the kitchen window and I was searching for ways to make his sudden death untrue. I flipped open the lid and saw the box was filled with several sizes of brown paper bags and envelopes. There were intricate labels on all of these items. Rows of stickers like the ones on prescription bottles. I ran my hand over the bags and envelopes and my chest contracted. passport – one of the labels said. bank card. work-boots. socks.   

“Are you sure you want to do that now?” My husband asked.  What is the appropriate  action to take when the last personal effects of your son arrive on your kitchen table? Our eyes met across the box, “I mean, maybe you could just think about it for a while.” He knew better than anyone that I had the resilience of damp tissue paper.  I nodded. He gently closed the box, tugged it from my reluctant hands and took it down to the basement where he placed it on a high shelf in the storage room with the camping gear and Christmas decorations. Continue Reading →