Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dwelling in Possibility

from google

When people tell you 
it's impossible,
don't listen.
Even the impossible
is possible -
it just might take
a little longer.

Live in expectation,
with the possibility
that anything can happen
at any moment.

Do you remember
the day you met your true love,
and how golden everything
so suddenly became?
That happened in a moment,
and in the fluttering of your heart,
the world was made new.

No one knows
when a knock at the door
will bring news that
changes everything.

Even world peace
is possible.
It just takes six billion people
changing their minds
to make it so.

Your future is as
bright and unlimited,
as expansive and shining,
as it is possible for you to dream.

Dream big!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Fully Mechanical Conscienceless Device

google image

Kerry's challenge at Real Toads today is steampunk, a sub-genre of fantasy and  speculative fiction.

Banish all the libraries,
and send all poets and literateurs 
to the outback.
Deprive them of pens
and imprison them singly, 
so they may not tell stories aloud.

They have all been replaced by 
The Fully Mechanical Conscienceless Device,
robots and androids
that can pen full tomes
in place of human bards.

It is said these automatons
will be fully functional
within five years
and one will win the Pulitzer Prize
for Literature 
in twenty.

Forgive me if I still prefer
the feeling of a book in my hands,
and to have my stories come
from the minds and hearts  
of their authors.

I'm just old-fashioned that way.

This is actually not fantasy. On CBC Radio last week, they were discussing a new robot/computer that is already writing stories. The journalist doing the interview was understandably nervous at the possibility of being replaced by a robot, but the interviewee was excited about the possibility of reaching wide audiences with programmed books written by robots.


The Great Invocation

My beloved West Coast

This morning I feel moved to post The Great Invocation. The more of us who repeat this beautiful mantra, the more the transformation of consciousness will be assisted across this beautiful and perilous planet, which needs all the help it can get right now.

From the point of Light within the Mind of God
Let light stream forth into the minds of men.
Let Light descend on Earth.

From the point of Love within the Heart of God
Let Love stream forth into the hearts of men.
May Christ return to Earth.

From the centre where the Will of God is known
Let purpose guide the little wills of men --
The purpose which the Masters know and serve.

From the centre which we call the race of men
Let the plan of Love and Light work out,
And may it seal the door where evil dwells.

Let Light and Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth.

This invocation can be made more powerfully if we envision a triangle of light above our heads as we say it, and see it connecting to triangles of light all across the planet.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Day Graced by Doves

God sent me a morning
bathed in sunlight,
horse in the pasture,
wash on the line.

God sent me a morning
graced by doves,
with everything golden.
 I'll make it mine.

I'll wrap it around me
to keep me safe,
to comfort and hold
my inner waif.

I'll breathe it in,
till the day is done,
then God will send me
another one.

It is a most beautiful morning, syrupy sunlight, doves cooing, everything peaceful, and my sister is driving me to the Coast to see my doctor. Likely no time for a beach walk, but we will LOOK at some spectacular scenery, and that will reassure me that it is all still there, waiting for me.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Doves of Morning

image from google

Thirty mourning doves
have come to live 
in my yard.
Their soft coos
all my remembering
of years gone past.
Their song 
 is telling me
the sands of time
are hastening
through the hourglass.
Time to
make each day

Sunday, May 27, 2012


This is Daryl Edelstein's photo of artist Isaiah Zagar's work in mosaics. At Real Toads, the prompt is to write to one of the pieces presented by the two artists. If you click on the link to Toads, you can see more of their work.

In the blues and the mauves,
you can see me dreaming.
In the center of the real world,
I withdraw to a vantage point
that sees above,
that flies beyond,
that finds the purpose 
and the meaning
which I translate into art.

Under all of the batterings
and the losses,
the cageings and freeings,
there has been this Voice,
for a hundred years,
keeping up a constant commentary-
life seen through
the poet's eyes,

With our pens
we can take a massacre
and find something of honor.
We can take a chained slave
and set her free.
We can paint the world
as we wish it to be,
as it should and could be,
if every poet had
a magic wand.

We can paint the world
as beautiful
as our eyes
will let us see.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Trickle of Consciousness

image from google

Yesterday I saw the interesting prompt at dVerse, to write a stream of consciousness poem.    I thought I'd give it a go.
     *****     *****     *****
How to write something poetic and amazing, when my head is full of bears and wolves,
and a son living on the astral plane who thinks that's perfectly normal, as I'm watching young women who are more beautiful than they know throw themselves away on men not worthy of standing beside them because they dont think the man of their dreams will ever come so may as well be with whoever right now,  being alone and waiting  never seeming to be an option.


Inside my head is a jumble of things: things I need to do, basic life stuff like washing the floor, things I absolutely MUST do, creatively, but have no time to, so easy to let the hours drift and keep moving forward without taking the time to go back and tie up the loose ends, to just enjoy the pervasive underlying wonderful feeling of gratitude for my cozy little room, and my life, full of dogs and sunshine and peace, as long as I never answer the phone.

Poetic and amazing arent up there, in the gray sludge that is a tired 65 year old brain. The amazing part is still being able to string sentences and think of something, anything,  and better write it all down as fast as I can before dementia sets in and it's too late. Ditto re archiving my work which should be Priority One but never is. Why do we do things we know we will regret later, and then go "coulda woulda shoulda" forever?

Oh well, one can only live one day at a time, thankfully. And this morning I need to feed the birds outside, take sugar lumps and carrots to the elderly horse in the pasture, and let the dogs out to bark and loll in the sunshine. Hang the wash on the line, wash floors, in between sneaking peeks online to see what everyone is up to. I need - deeply need - to watch the clouds shift and move, and to just be in that moment of wonder, to reflect on  how I cant control the outcome of anything, and remember to feast my eyes on gilt-edged greenery today, in case there's rain tomorrow.

Generally an average day for your average bear, and a late afternoon sit on the porch swing with a cool drink, to watch the quality of the light change at the turn of the day towards evening, a half hour blessed with wonder, for anyone who thinks to raise her head to the sky and take it all in.

Bear With Me

One of two grizzlies at the Grouse Mountain Wildlife refuge.
Photo taken by Jason Hightower.

I decided we needed to observe a more civilized species today. So I found some grizzlies, most of them living on Grouse Mountain, where the Olympics were held in 2010.

Grouse Mountain, photo by, taken during the Olympics

Grouse Mountain grizzly - Peter Macdonald photo

photo by

Sleeping bear photo by

Sleeping wolf photo by
One of the wolves living in the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife
on Grouse Mountain

Thursday, May 24, 2012

No Honour Here

Mohammad Shafia (bottom) and his son Hamed Shafia (L) leave the Frontenac County Courthouse in Kingston, Ontario January 29, 2012. The two, as well as Shafia's wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya, were found guilty of first-degree murder on Sunday. They were charged with killing Mohammad Shafia's three daughters Zainab Shafia, 19, Sahar Shafia, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, as well as Mohammad's first wife, Rona Amir Mohammed.

Photograph by: Lars Hagberg , Reuters

At the Thursday Think Tank, the prompt is Honour. (Canada spells it with a U). Sadly, the Canadian news this year has been full of the Shafia "honour killings". Afghan Mohammad Shafia, his second wife and his son, were found guilty of murdering their three daughters and Shafia's other wife, who had been brought to Canada as a domestic servant. The girls were deemed to be influenced by Western freedoms, dressing provocatively and dating boys. The family "honour" had to be preserved.

School officials were concerned about the girls, one of whom was profoundly sad,  the other acting out. Child welfare investigations were unsuccessful, as interviews were conducted in the presence of the father, so the girls could not speak freely.

The judge concluded sentencing with a stinging denunciation. “The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameless murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your twisted notion of honour, a notion of honour that is founded upon the domination and control of women, a sick notion of honour that has absolutely no place in any civilized society.”

"Justice was done," news reporters say. But that doesn't bring back the three girls and their stepmother. 

It is a strange perspective,
difficult to understand,
when dating, dressing in Western clothes, 
and being a teenage girl
are transgressions punishable by death,
but murder
for the sake of "family honour"
is considered
and just,
not an offence.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

At Grandma's Table

At Real Toads Ella set us a cruel task, for those of us trying to shed some winter pounds. We are to write about food. The hardest part is reading all of the offerings, each one  accompanied by photos of the most delicious edibles. I had to make myself a cup of chocolate chai tea in the middle of it, (not nearly as good as Karen's, without chocolate shavings) since I dont have peaches to make Teresa's peach cake. Well, I digress. (I am starting to resemble my golden retriever more all the time!)

At Grandma's, the aunts 
and granddaughters
would set the table just so.
Grandpa always "played checkers"
with the salt and pepper shakers,
and the condiments.
They thought if they could get it perfect
just one time
maybe he wouldnt find anything
that needed to be improved.

He would sit down,
the women all holding their breath,
survey the table grumpily,
then thump a salt shaker 
two inches to the right,
just on general principles,
as the women dissolved in giggles.

When the family gathered,
the men always joked
"Ma's frying pan never gets cold".
Pancakes as big around as the pan
with butter and brown sugar,
strawberry shortcake on Grandma's
fluffy homemade biscuits,
served to the men in serving bowls,
the demure dessert dishes 
deemed too dainty
for the men's hearty appetites.

Breakfast, lunchtime, dinner,
we'd all gather round.
The fare was simple, hearty,
inexpensive, nourishing
and, best of all was the laughter
around the table.
Grandma's hearty laugh
was always loudest of all,
and it had a surprised air,
her eyes big and round,
as if she hadnt been expecting it.

Grandkids grew sunburned 
and long-legged
around that table
summer after summer,
as the watermelon dripped 
down our chins
and the scent of sweet peas 
wafted on the evening breeze.

The youngest would sometimes
be taken for an evening drive,
to encourage them towards sleep,
Grandpa intoning from the front seat
that all the chickens on all the farms 
had gone to bed,
a small grandson's surprised
"Dont they stay up to watch the Flintstones?"
sparking the adults' indulgent laughter.

"Clean up your plate,"
the small ones were admonished.
"There are children starving  
in China, right now, you know."
The same little boy :
"Well, why doesnt somebody 
feed dem, den?"

The tradition of big meals,
family gathered around
went down the line
from my grandma,
to my mom,
to me.
And now my sister
cooks the meals.
So many faces missing
around the table,
from those good old days,
so many new ones growing tall and lanky,
fumbling to find their way,
always the food,
always the laughter,
and I watch the round blue eyes
moving down the generations,
and know why my Grandpa
always got choked up
when all the family gathered
round the table.

A Land of Milk-Faced Fools

Marcel, with Paprikas, at the end of his life - this was taken just days before his death,
when he had already decided he was leaving.

At Poetry Jam, Mary's prompt this week is: Bully, an important topic for anyone who has ever been a child in school, or who has children in the school system now. It can be a dangerous minefield to cross, and the kids who  are perceived as "different" are usually targeted. Interestingly, as we age, it is that very difference, originality, talent and uniqueness that we most admire. 

We need to tell our kids that each one of us is different, special in our own way. I wish that every school in the world would show the film Bully, and follow it up with an anti-bullying workshop. We need to make this world a kinder and safer place for our children. Mary did ask for poetry, and I did write a poem for Marcel here. Plus it is supposed to be a new poem. But when I think of bullying, I always remember Marcel. And I don't think I can say it any better than I already have.

****    ****    ****    **** 

Marcel was a short, slight, eye-glassed, fair-haired boy in high school. He had a plain face, long nose and rather pouty lips. His rather effeminate manner made him the butt of endless teasing by his teenage classmates, macho boys who were all mouth and muscle. His demeanor was quiet, watchful, withdrawn, often rather sullen. But when the kids taunted him beyond what he could bear, he would sometimes flare up, quoting Shakespeare at them in frothing, red-faced tirades that reduced them to fits of laughter, and left him seething with frustration.

"Begone, thou milk-faced fools!" he'd rant, face red and eyes tearing with frustration. He'd follow with a whole section of quotation, verbatim, while they all roared heartlessly.

In the Old Ways, Marcel would have been called "two-spirited". He would have been honored, in some cultures, for carrying the two sides of human nature, the male and the female, within him, thus being doubly blessed. In high school, in small town Kelowna in the '60's, he was tormented, for simply being himself, one apart from the herd.

I ran with the popular crowd, but I, too, felt different. My ready laughter, my bouncy personality, hid a secret: a home life marked by alcoholism. I was either cresting a peak of excessive hilarity, or plunging into profound despair. I pretended not to see the raised eyebrows, the dismissive, superior shakes of the head from "normal" kids, who seemed to ingest balance with their morning vitamins. My popularity felt a fragile thing, should the other kids discover who I really was.

I hated how the boys bullied Marcel, though I was not brave enough to stand up to them on his behalf. I'd say "Hi" to him in passing, a greeting he would quietly acknowledge. That was all it took to make him my devoted friend.

He began to shadow my footsteps, meeting me on the way to school in the mornings. From down the street I'd see him trudging towards me, head down, his arms full of books, shoulders hunched protectively in his shabby tan corduroy jacket.

I remember those dark winter mornings, walking to school with an emptiness inside me as big as the sky. At the corner of Richter and Elliot, Marcel would fall in beside me, our boots crunching over the frozen ground, our frozen hearts marching like brave soldiers with no choices towards the brightly lit school. At the lockers, we'd part; I'd merge into the crowd and he would make his solitary way through the rest of the day, till we were released like prisoners by the three o'clock bell.

We didnt talk about our struggles, his persecution, my unhappiness. He fell in beside me again and we walked much in silence, turning off at our respective corners. The trials that drew us together remained unaddressed between us.

There were times when my heart sank at his persistent presence. Once a boy I liked offered to walk home with me, after the three of us had been decorating the gym for a dance. Marcel, flushed and happy from the unaccustomed feeling of being included, chirped "I'll come too!" Later it hurt to remember that he caught and understood the look that flashed between me and the boy, and how he turned off at the first side street and made his lonely way through the falling dusk.

But mostly, I was kind, and he was my loyal ally, a quiet steady supporter.

Kelowna was a church-going "respectable" community, about ten years behind the times in 1964. We attended a Catholic high school, which one might have thought would not tolerate bullying among the students. It was a time of strict mores, and following the norm. "What the neighbors will think" was highly important, and neither Marcel nor I filled the bill, he because he did not act enough like a boy, me because I acted too much like a girl. My dating, my flamboyant facade, kept me at risk of being considered "fast", though in truth I was a babe in the woods, and a virgin when I married, likely due to Early Trauma By Nuns:) I was constantly at Mass praying, since I was always in a "state of sin" for thoughts, feelings, dreams over which I had no control. The nuns assured us these were "occasions of sin" that would send us straight to hell if we died in the night. But it was worse for boys - it was whispered if they committed sin by touching, they could actually "go crazy" - their lives would become unmanageable.

It is a wonder any of us managed to procreate at all!

Discipline was so strict at Immaculata that once during choir practice, Sister fell off her stool and onto the floor and none of us broke ranks or made a peep, beyond one, single collective indrawn gasp. We were trained to be silent and obedient, and in silent disbelief, we looked at her lying on the floor, a source of angry power reduced to crumpled human proportions. We felt as horrified as if Jesus had fallen off his cross. Sister rose up, with dignity, climbed back up on the stool, her wimple crooked, her expression fierce, and we shakily carried on with the next verse.

I spent Saturday nights necking in the back of '64 Chevvies, and Sunday mornings singing in the choir, my confused eyes looking out from under the brim of my brushed tan sailor hat, my soul at a point equidistant from hell and heaven. My white gloves, though, were immaculate, primly drawn to the wrist, one hand modestly folded within the other.

I alternated between wanting to be a nun and wanting to be the mother of six. A faceless husband figured only peripherally in this dream, once the beautiful wedding was over. Life was waiting up ahead, in glorious Technicolor, once I reached the magic status of adulthood, when I would finally know what to do. A picket fence, milk bottles on the porch, (they still did that in those days), and babies in high chairs would make it all come right. It would be perfect.
Meanwhile, Eyes watched everywhere from behind lace curtains. My heart sank at grave admonitions from Grandma, because Mrs. Long or Miss Hicks or the Bennett sisters had seen me laughing too loudly on the street, or, worse, Riding with some Boy in a Car.

Through high school, those unseen eyes were my judges, and the feeling that I never measured up I hid behind the jokes and the "I dont care" attitude.

Times when I was hurting the most, Marcel would quietly fall in beside me, walking home.
"How's it goin'?"
"Hangin' in."

We never talked about our pain, but his silent presence was a comfort to me. Only much later in life did I realize the sensitivity he displayed, understand that he must have watched me, had seen the feelings I thought I was hiding. Never would either of us have spoken unkindly to the other. We were adrift together on an unfriendly sea, and our boat was leaking faster than we could bail.

I was on student council, involved in everything, and Marcel came along on my coattails, grabbing whatever crumbs of inclusion he could from the edge of the crowd. The kids teased that he "follows Sherry around like a puppy dog". I thought I was being kind to him, befriending someone so socially un-cool, by tolerating his constant presence. Only when I was older would I realize the gift he gave me, standing by me in silent loyalty, through those painful years, steadfast, asking for nothing in return.

None of us understood, in those years, that Marcel was years ahead of us all in terms of his own inner development. Because he lacked social connection, he was forced onto his own resources. He was a scholar, reading Shakespeare for pleasure. He listened to classical music by choice. He wrote, dreamed, thought about life, planned his future, while the rest of us used up megatons of energy having crushes and getting our hearts broken, turning into, as the principal joked disparagingly, "a two-headed monster, with googly eyes", sitting in the front seats of cars.

Marcel shone when, for a school project called My Dream House, he produced full architectural plans, down to the last specific detail. The rest of us cut pictures out of magazines and glued them on poster board at the last minute. It was obvious Marcel had put hours and hours into his project, time the rest of us were unwilling to spend.

Once I went to his house and he showed me a photograph of himself as a four year old. He was sitting on a bench, one foot up and tucked under the other leg. He had long golden ringlets, and a dress. I didnt comment beyond a murmured "mm-hmm". It felt like he was trying to tell me something, but I didnt know what. I thought perhaps since his parents were European, it may have been their custom to dress small boys that way.

There was no judgment in me. Perhaps because I had felt its sting so often myself. But even more because, if anyone felt unworthy in any human equation, in those years, it was me.
I hated living in a small town, yearning for the anonymity of Vancouver, where I fled right after graduation. I rejected school and the emotional torture kids inflicted on other kids in the name of fitting in. So I refused a scholarship to college (that would have changed my life) and blended happily into the sea of nameless faces taking the bus to work every morning.

Marcel was in the city too, attending university, and once I visited his small apartment. I was impressed at how well he knew himself, and expressed his individuality in his surroundings. He had shelves of great books, he had a wonderful classical music collection, he had a stereo, art on his walls, and a mosaic-topped coffee table he had made himself. He lived like an adult, I marveled. How had he learned this?

My apartment, and my heart, were still a girl's. I had frilly curtains and stuffed animals. With my first paycheque I bought a stuffed dog. The first piece of "art" on my wall was a black velvet painting of a puppy with tears in his eyes.

Marcel was happier in his own skin these days. He was among intellectuals; in university he fit in. Differences, mocked by the pack mentality of teenagers, were now encouraged. The rules had changed; being who you were was everything. Marcel found friends who were like himself, and his life seemed full. He had grown beyond me.

When I moved away, our letters crossed back and forth for a time. In one of them, Marcel wrote that he was homosexual and he hoped telling me wouldnt affect our friendship. It didnt; it was simply a fact I noted. He wrote me a story, on a long scroll I had to unroll, in which a princess despairingly called out "Marry me, Marry me, before I become a spinster," which made me laugh, but also rather aptly described my mindset at the time.

After I was married, he sent baby gifts, a silver mug for Jon, and a little pair of moccasins for Lisa, "to chase the boys in".

When my husband and I moved back to Vancouver, Marcel asked if he and his lover could come over for a visit.

"Of course," I replied. "Great!"

When the guests arrived, the men all sat in the living room, while I prepared tea in the kitchen. As I was carrying it in and pouring it, I noticed a terrible silence had fallen over the room. My husband sat scowling, arms crossed, beard bristling, refusing to speak. I made some forced remarks, tried to smile and draw Marcel and his partner out, but conversation was stilted and very soon they left, Marcel giving me a sad and wondering look as they went down the steps.

"You were not very friendly to our company," I said to my husband, as I closed the door.
"What do you expect, when a man comes calling on my wife?" he snarled.
I was speechless, and then enraged. "Marcel is my friend! He has never been a boyfriend. Besides, he's gay!"
"He still has the equipment," my husband muttered darkly.

When I was older, long divorced and finally at home in my own being, I understood that homophobia exists and that people of gentle hearts constantly have to bang their heads against it in order to simply live their lives. Love is such a private and tender thing between two people. Behind closed doors, we act out our love and our pain, and why should it matter to anyone else with whom we share our deepest selves or how we choose to do it?

I also, by then, knew that Marcel was three hundred times the man my ex-husband was. He knew and accepted who he was - and who I was! - in a way that was simply not available to my ex-husband. But all my life I will remember Marcel's sad look as they left my house that day, and think of what their conversation must have been, as they made their way back to their own world. I didnt hear from him again for three decades.

****** ****** ****** ******

In 2000, I was living on Vancouver Island, and tracked Marcel down through an on-line high school classmate search. He still lived in the city. With joy, we resumed our friendship via email.

"I am overjoyed to hear from my old high school heart throb," he wrote.
"I was your heart throb, Marcel? I'm touched."
"That was before I realized I was gay. I thought I was just a late bloomer. However, if I am a late bloomer, I am somewhere between the last of the chrysanthemums and the last Christmas rose. I live by myself with a furball called Paprikas - he arrived in front of the building a bag of bones, so I took him in. He got his name because he is the color of paprika. Am I happy? Sometimes, when the sun shines. Most of the time I am concerned about my future. Ill health is no joy."

Marcel had severe health issues and could not work. He had been battling an insurance company for disability payments. Insurance companies being what they are, it could withstand the battle longer than Marcel's defeated spirit could. Marcel felt his integrity was being attacked, when he was not believed.

I was going through a bad break-up at the time. Sometimes the email would come from Paprikas, saying his master requested that I write about something other than a whiney woman mourning a lost love. When I sent along a missive on another topic, Marcel returned to my inbox, acerbically remarking, "Perhaps you can still write, after all."

Around that time, Marcel was gay-bashed, his hand broken, in downtown Vancouver. With typical lack of complaint, using two fingers of his remaining hand, he continued to painfully tap out emails to me.

He identified his attacker, a bus driver, but no charges were brought, "because it is my word against his." Marcel was outraged. He encountered the man on two other occasions in his neighborhood. The man behaved menacingly to him. Marcel felt threatened.

He grew quiet. Sometimes a short email would come from Paprikas saying he was worried about his master, he never smiled any more. I was distracted, still grieving, and didnt grasp the significance of the message. Somehow I thought Marcel would always be at the other end of my emails. We had only just reconnected; we still had so much catching up to do.

In the fall of 2001, after a definitive "claim denied" notice from the insurance company, Marcel planned carefully over three months' time. In early 2002, he held a lavish and perfect dinner for visiting relatives, during which he seemed light-hearted and charming. They said he laughed a lot, reminisced. He almost glowed. Later that night, after they had returned to their hotel, he swallowed most of a bottle of antidepressants and with finality departed from this life.

He left a letter saying he felt terrible deserting his mother, but he simply could not go on.
"I am tired of the struggle, of injustice, and of the rage that makes me feel. I cannot work, and I will not beg. Please find Paprikas a good home. Dont put him through the trauma of going to the SPCA. Please." It was his only wish.

He left instructions that I be called. I was devastated; we had not even begun to finish our conversation. I had only just gotten him back. I also felt guilty. I had had a second chance to be the kind of friend to him that he had always been to me and, preoccupied with my own problems, felt like I had let him down again.

He left a letter for me. "By now you will know that I have left this world. I could not handle life any more. When my claim was denied, I knew this would be my end," the letter said. "I just didnt have the strength to go on. I am sending you a little owl to give you wisdom, a Chinese gentleman to give you tranquillity, and a piece of Inuit sculpture to give you a happy family. Thank you for the too brief renewal of our friendship. All my love, Marcel."

I went to the city to attend the memorial, held in his ninety-year-old mother's apartment. She had buried her husband years earlier, had lost her other son, who died in childhood, and had now outlived her only other son. When the door to her apartment opened, the rooms were filled with relatives and friends who cared about Marcel. Did he know how many people loved him? In their midst, I saw a teensy diminutive woman, under five feet tall, her shoulders bent with age and sorrow. I went over and put my arms around her. The tiny woman felt like a little bird, her arms folded in like wings.

I had written a poem to Marcel when I learned of his death. Crying all the way through, I managed to read it during the memorial. I read it right to him, his ashes resting in an urn on the coffee table, a photograph of him in happier days beside it. I was telling him he meant more to me than I had even known.

The family had had only 24 hours to empty Marcel's apartment. There was no time. Paprikas was taken to the SPCA, Marcel's worst fear. Poor Paprikas.

I returned home. I unearthed the graduation photos of myself and Marcel at seventeen, and hung them in my office, along with the photo above, of him holding his beloved Paprikas, with one of the saddest faces I have ever seen. He had his friend take it just days before he died. His eyes sent me a message of farewell from beyond the veil.

I grieved for a long time. I knew he was, at last, at peace, free of intolerance, phobia and prejudice, free also of the private demons that had plagued his earthly journey. I was grieving my own failure to do better by him this second time around. I needed to believe he was still nearby, was still my guardian angel.

"Can you still hear me, Marcel? I miss you more than I can say. But you have finally been released from this painful, obtuse land of milk-faced fools."

***** ****** ****** ******

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sebastian's Journey

Today was overcast, not a good day for the lake. So we went to my (and Pup's) favorite spot: Stamp Falls, where the river is in full roar right now.

This little wayfarer is three year old Sebastian, who is my sidekick one weekend a month (this time for four days), so his foster mom can have a break.

He is adorable, and loves nature the way I do. He can be made totally happy with one small creek and a handful of stones! Being in nature is one gift I give all the kids in my care, as I have done all through the years. It is a gift that seems to stay with them through life.

Sebastian, contemplating the traditional hunting and fishing grounds of his ancestors,
the Nuu Chah Nulth First Nations.

Stamp Falls is the main channel for the salmon to make their migration every fall. The current is strong, especially farther down-river, where they make a perilous leap up the rocks, against the current, on their journey.

Sebastian is on a journey too, one more little wayfarer whose path crosses mine for a time. I think back to all the little boys who have walked beside me here, 
looking up at me with their trusting eyes and little smiling faces.

Of course, we spoke of Pup here, as for so many years every time I came here, it was with him. This was his favorite place locally, as it is the wildest. His wolf howl likely can be heard here nights, under the full moon. Next full moon, I must come and listen.

The salmons' natural route is up the rocks on the left. On the right, a corner of the man-made fish ladder, their alternate route, can be seen. It is a glorious thing, every fall, to watch them making their mighty leap against the current, falling back to gather in the calmer resting pools down river, then trying yet again.

Spring blossoms in the wilderness.

Little sojourner, on The Path.

As he scampers away, it occurs to me that this little boy, 
too, is on a path that soon will lead him away from me, 
and on to others' caring arms. 

This life has taught me so much about
loving and letting go. 

I think I am about ready to receive
my Masters' in this particular field of study!