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 interriational
APRIL 1986
!•.'':  Jul
international  STEVE NOYES
Poetry Editor
SARA GADDES
Drama Editor
LORI THICKE
Copy Editor
STEVE NOYES
Editor-in-Chief
MAIDA PRICE
Managing Editor
DIANNE MAGUIRE
Business Manager
CHRIS PETTY
Fiction Editor
GEORGE McWHIRTER
Advisory Editor
DON DAVIS
Art Advisor
Editorial Board
PETER BRACKING
LINDA COPMAN-SEBESTA
HART HANSON
LOUISE HOOLEY
WAYNE HUGHES
DIANNE MAGUIRE
Im.
international
A QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF
CONTEMPORARY WRITING PRISM international, a journal of contemporary writing, is published four times per
year at the Department of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, B.C. v6t 1W5. Microfilm editions are available from Xerox University
Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and reprints from the Kraus Reprint Corporation, New York, N.Y.
Contents Copyright © 1986 PRISM international for the authors.
Cover design and artwork: Brigitte Kemper
One-year individual subscriptions $10.00, two-year subscriptions $16.00. Library
and institution subscriptions $14.00, two-year subscriptions $20.00. Sample copy
$4.00.
All manuscripts should be sent to the Editors at the above address. Manuscripts
must be accompanied by a self-addressed envelope with Canadian stamps or international reply coupons. Manuscripts with insufficient postage will be held for six
months and then discarded.
Payment to contributors is $25.00 per page and a subscription. PRISM international
purchases First N.A. Serial Rights only.
Our gratitude to the Canada Council, Dean Will and the University of British
Columbia.
Also financially assisted by the Government of British Columbia through the British
Columbia Cultural Fund and Lottery Revenues.
Second Class Mail Registration No. 5496. April 1986. CONTENTS
VOLUME TWENTY-FOUR       NUMBER THREE     SPRING 1986
A Selection of Writing
from the Prairies:
Carol Shields
Family Secrets
7
Lorna Crozier
Two Poems
15
Don Kerr
Two Poems
17
Ken Rivard
"Winning Tree"
19
George Amabile
"Catch"
20
E.D. Blodgett
"Aubade for Rivers"
21
Gary Hyland
Two Poems
26
Gerald Hill
"The Invisible Merging of
Concrete and Air"
28
Dennis Cooley
"Sunday Morning"
29
Bert Almon
Two Poems
31
Patrick Lane
Apple Peels and Knives
34
Warren Graves
The Last Real Summer, Act One
38
Charles Foran
Winter Colours
63
Tony Cosier
"A Country That I Have Not Known'
'77
Karen Romell
"Incubus"
78  Carol Shields
Family Secrets
Acres of corn, wheat fields and oats led right up to the town of
DeKalb, Illinois where there was a State Normal School which
prepared farm girls to go out and become schoolteachers, one of them
being my young mother. This was not long after the First World War.
She was sent first to teach in a four-room school in a place called
Cortland where she stayed for two years. Why only two years?—I must
have asked her this at one time or else my brother Barclay did. "I got
sick," she said, "and had to go home for a while."
Where did she go? She went back to the forty-acre farm near
Lemond where her mother and father lived, and after a year she got a
job teaching on the west side of Chicago where she soon met our
father and got married and began her real life.
I've thought lately about that time of sickness; what kind of sickness
is it that makes a young woman leave a job and go home to her parents
for a whole year? The last time I saw Barclay I said to him, "I think
Mom must have got pregnant that year she had to quit her first job."
It took him a minute to figure out what I was talking about. For a
man so intelligent he has a poor memory for the details of our
childhood. Once I tested him on the colour of the garage doors we had
at home in Maywood. "Blue," he said. "No," I shot back, "brown."
I had to remind him about Mom leaving the school in Cortland. I
had to trot out the whole story, and then he leaned back and smiled his
off-focus smile and said, oh yes, now he remembered.
"Well," I said, "what's your honest opinion? Do you think she got
herself in trouble? As they used to say in those days?"
He shook his moony face. "I doubt it."
"A year's a long time to be sick." I made my voice curl up at the end,
pointed it accusingly at the memory of our dead mother.
"Girls didn't then," Barclay said in a deceptively prim way he has.
"Oh no? What about Mary Organ?"
His face squeezed into a wide smile. He remembered Mary Organ
all right, one of the old schoolteacher friends our mother used to talk
about—Mary Organ who was unmarried and Catholic and who got pregnant and jumped one night off the top of a player piano in an attempt to bring about a miscarriage. For us the story of Mary Organ's
desperate leap has the sheen of legend about it, and shares space with
my mother's other girlhood legends—brave little crippled Grace, for
instance, who went to DeKalb Normal in a wheelchair, and another
friend, someone called Lily who had the habit of signing her letters,
"Lovingly, Lily," one word swimming coyly beneath the other (an example is preserved in my mother's "memory book," floating loose between pressed gardenias and locks of hair).
Barclay and I were having this conversation about Mom and Mary
Organ and Grace and Lily in a downtown bar that serves good roast
pork sandwiches. Barclay works as a systems engineer in Houston, and
normally when he comes to Chicago I invite him out to the house for a
family dinner. I wondered if he thought it was funny that I'd suggested we meet down in the Loop like this instead and that I hadn't
even mentioned Ray and the children. Maybe he thought I was being
evasive. Probably not; he has a calm, incurious nature. He'd put on
weight, I saw. Even his fingers curving around the wine glass looked
puffy. What do you do for love? is the question I would like to have
asked him. I imagined the words leaving my mouth and entering his
soft body. No, impossible. We talked instead about our mother's
friend Mary Organ whom neither of us had ever met. "Do you suppose it worked?" Barclay said. He meant, did she have a miscarriage,
and the question surprised me. "Why, I don't know," I said with
amazement.
Why didn't I know? This was an old story, after all, and I'd heard it
from our mother countless times. The picture was vivid: a carved oak
piano draped with some sort of fringed scarf; a woman in a flapper
dress with flushed Catholic cheeks is climbing first up onto the
keyboard and then onto the top of the piano itself; she crouches, then
springs, and there—frozen in mid-air—she has remained. Rings of
surprise surround her spread-eagled body which is weightless in
flight, but determined, righteous, and stiff with terror.
"Either it worked or it didn't work," said Barclay in his committee
voice. Then he said, "Maybe she died."
I said no, I didn't think so, we would have remembered that.
Neither of us could believe that our mother had told us only half the
story. We agreed that we must have blocked out the ending, the
moment of actual impact. "Maybe it was a nervous breakdown,"
Barclay said, getting back to the subject of our mother's year of illness.
This was a good possibility and one that had also occurred to me.
Our mother had been a nervous woman. Insomnia, hives, headaches,
fits of harsh weeping, all the usual symptoms. "Mom's in the sadhouse
again," our father would tell us from time to time. But that sad self was
her later self, the self that came into being after the betrayal of her
8 veins and the stringy deterioration of her hands. As a young woman in
her sunny Cortland schoolroom I see her as cool-skinned and calm,
rather like Barclay in the matter of personality.
Barclay said, "Maybe it was one of those mysterious girlish fevers
women used to get. Or—what do you call it?—wasting disease?"
"No one's had wasting disease since the eighteenth century," I told
him.
"How about TB?"
"Impossible. She'd have gone to the San."
"Mono?" he flung out. We tried to think if people had mono in
those days—it sounds so much a disease of our own generation. But
no, it's an old illness; we remembered that it was once called glandular
fever.
"That's a real possibility." I drummed my fingers on the dark wet
table, pleased. Barclay—what a good man he was—sensed my pleasure
and poured me more wine from the bubbly-sided carafe. Glandular
fever. People who had glandular fever had to go to bed and stay
there—perhaps as long as a year.
"Why don't you ask Auntie Ingrid?" Barclay suggested.
"I suppose I could."
"You still write to her, don't you?"
"Twice a year. Christmas and her birthday. I think she'd go through
the floor if I just wrote to her out of the blue and asked her a thing like
that."
"Well, if you really want to know..." He let his voice trail off mildly,
but managed to suggest I'd been wasting his time with my speculation.
"Maybe I will," I decided. "But that's not to say I'm going to find
anything out. You know how secretive our family is."
"Oh, I know that," Barclay said.
In my mother's family there were two amputations, Aunt Ingrid's finger and Uncle Harvey's leg. Even in a family with eight children this
seems to me unusual.
Aunt Ingrid is my mother's twin sister—they were identical twins,
the Lofgren girls from Lemond, Illinois, who looked so much alike
that one of them once took a Latin test for the other without their
teacher catching on. Later they liked to fool their boyfriends, my
mother Anna going to the door when Ingrid's beau arrived and saying
in her sly teasing voice, "I'm all ready if you are." They believed, as
many twins do, that they were joined by a bond closer than mere sisterhood. In later years, Aunt Ingrid, married by then to Uncle Eugene
and the mother of four children, would write from Napoleon, Indiana
where she moved and tell my mother that she had a new perm, and it
would turn out to have been on the very day my mother in Maywood
9 gave herself a Toni. Or they would find they had had colds at the same
time or bought new spring coats in the same colour or tossed and
turned throughout the same restless night. More often than not their
letters crossed, and this more than anything provided proof of their
joined natures.
As girls they were each other's best friends. When they were seventeen they enrolled in the teacher training course at DeKalb, travelling
back and forth each day on the Interurban which ran for miles past
the town limits, into the rolling countryside and stopping not far from
the side road where they lived. One afternoon, arriving at their stop,
my mother jumped gaily off the car, followed by her sister Ingrid. But
Ingrid was wearing a ring on her finger, a cheap ring of imitation
gold, and the ring caught in the mechanism of the door. My mother
remembered a strip of brown skin unwinding like a peeling from an
apple. There was surprisingly little blood but considerable confusion
and shouting, and someone on the streetcar said loudly, "The poor
girl, she's going to lose that finger."
The driver of the Interurban took Aunt Ingrid straight back to the
DeKalb hospital where she did indeed lose her finger, the fourth finger on the left, that very night.
It fell to my mother to go home and tell her parents that there had
been an accident. But she did not tell them. She could not, she later
said; her mother could not have borne it. Instead, she told them that
Ingrid had gone to a friend's house in DeKalb to spend the night, and
then she lay awake all night with her teeth chattering, the longest night
she was ever to endure. In the morning a doctor from DeKalb drove
his Model T into the farmyard, knocked at the kitchen door and informed the astonished parents that their daughter's finger had been
amputated.
"It was lucky it was on the left hand," Aunt Ingrid said. "It was lucky
I lost it when I was young." She graduated and became a teacher; later
she married Uncle Eugene and moved to Napoleon and became a
prize-winning knitter. When she wore gloves she tucked the extra finger to the inside so that nothing showed but a neat little seam. Barclay
and I as children used to ask to see her tiny knobbed stump which was
pinker and harder than the rest of her hand. Did it hurt? we asked.
Not a bit, she told us, not in the slightest. Now she's eighty years old
and lives in a retirement centre in southern California, and last year
she wrote that she has begun to experience a twinge of arthritis in her
stump, just a twinge, nothing serious, she says—but a reminder that a
finger had once been there.
Uncle Harvey, my mother's oldest brother, lost his leg in the war in
1916. There are no firm facts about how this loss occurred—whether
it was a bullet or a bomb or what—the leg was just "lost in the war,"
10 mysteriously swallowed up in the smoking distances of Europe. He
came home wounded, a man with a wooden leg and two canes to help
him get around. After a few weeks of hobbling about on the farm, he
took the train into Chicago and got a job as a machinery operator, and
he worked at that for the rest of his life, a life that was long and alcoholic and which had a quality of deep distress about it. Whether it
was the wooden leg that caused his distress I don't know, but I do
know that his mother, our grandmother, was never told that her son
had, in fact, lost his leg. He was lame, that was all she knew. She lived
until the fall of 1942, this poor deluded woman, and then she succumbed to double pneumonia, still not knowing why.
My husband Ray, who comes from a more forthright family, could
never understand how this could have happened. Was this grandmother, this short, fat-faced woman—we have only the photographs
to inform us—kept in a state of innocence because of her status as
Mother, the being most closely tied to the one-legged man? Or was she
a woman with a singular sensitivity to life's darker offerings? Would
she have screamed if she'd been told? Might she have fallen into a faint
or slashed her wrists or sunk into years of melancholy? Or might she
have shrugged—did anyone consider this?—and said, well, that's a
shame but other boys have lost their legs and some are a lot worse off
than Harvey. On one occasion the truth was almost discovered. Uncle
Harvey, home for a Thanksgiving dinner, was sitting at the table lifting a turkey wing to his mouth. His mother, who was setting down a
bowl of peas, put her hand on his shoulder and felt through his shirt
the heavy leather strap that held the artificial leg in place. "What's
this?" she said in a sharp voice.
There was a moment's awful silence. Then Uncle Harvey said, "It's
for a hernia, Ma. Nothing serious."
My grandmother set down the peas and went back to the stove for
the potatoes; nothing more was said. Perhaps she didn't know what a
hernia was; perhaps she thought it was too delicate a subject to pursue;
maybe she had her suspicions but resisted them—this, after all, was a
woman who could not be told about her daughter's mutilated finger.
How was she expected to bear the news of a son's lost leg? What if the
secret had become a part of her, like a small benign tumor under the
skin which had long since been accommodated. Turning to the stove,
serving out potatoes, keeping her back turned, she may have been
saying: I don't want to know, I don't want to know.
Whew, the aunts and uncles must have said afterwards; whew, that
was a close call. I can imagine that they made adult faces at each other
over the table, mock expressions of shock and guilty amusement as
though they had brushed close to something unspeakable and also
foolish, something they were deeply ashamed of, but could do nothing
about.
11 In 1925 my mother recovered from her mysterious year of illness and
came to Chicago to teach school. She and Aunt Ingrid and Mary Organ and another girl called Gladys Heinz found an apartment on the
third floor of a house in Oak Park. The house was on Kenilworth
Avenue, just north of Lake Street.
And the strange part of this is that the house belonged to the
Hemingway family, the parents of Ernest Hemingway.
Of course my mother had never heard of Ernest Hemingway. No
one, for that matter, had really heard of him. All she knew was that the
family had a son who was living in Paris, France. He was married, and
his family spoke about him with a certain coolness. My mother, in her
simple way, assumed that the family disapproved of their son living
abroad or else they didn't like the girl he had married. She had no idea
that he was a writer.
Dr. and Mrs. Hemingway interviewed the four young women on a
hot, late summer day. My mother and Aunt Ingrid and Mary and
Gladys Heinz all wore hats and gloves and stockings, and they sat
uneasily in the airless front room—the living room, as Mrs.
Hemingway called it. The Hemingways explained that they didn't normally rent out their third floor, but that their daughter Sonny was in
college and that college was expensive. This statement was allowed to
float for a moment on the still air, and then Mrs. Hemingway
explained a few household rules: the rent was payable at the beginning of each month. She herself was a light sleeper and could not
tolerate noise after ten o'clock. The gas bill would be shared and so
would the bill for water. Baths were to be limited to two inches in the
tub, which was all she ever required herself. She said that she and her
husband had considered carefully the kind of people they preferred as
tenants and they both thought that young women in the teaching
profession represented all that was ideal. They regretted that their son
Ernest had not considered a career in education. They regretted it
deeply.
The third floor apartment contained two bedrooms and a sitting
room with a shuttered-off kitchen at one end. The ceiling sloped
sharply in the kitchen part of the room, and standing at the sink they
had to duck their heads, especially Mary Organ who was taller than the
others.
They took turns cooking. My mother's specialty was cheese rarebit, a
soggy dish that she occasionally made for us when we were children.
Aunt Ingrid made chicken a la king in toast cups. Gladys Heinz
made a good nutritious meat loaf, and Mary Organ—hopeless when it
came to cooking—washed dishes night after night with her long neck
bent against the ceiling.
On one occasion they were invited downstairs for Sunday dinner.
There was a standing rib roast, mashed turnips, canned peas and
tapioca pudding. The four of them were astonished to learn that Dr.
12 Hemingway had done all the cooking himself. Speechless, they turned
their eyes to Mrs. Hemingway who pronounced in a deep voice, "I
have never taken an interest in cooking." After dessert the
Hemingways talked about their children. There had been a recent letter from Sonny, but it was some time since they had heard from their
son in Paris.
"Is he an artist?" Aunt Ingrid asked.
"He's a time waster," Dr. Hemingway said in a stern, settled voice.
After a brief silence my mother, anxious to prove she was not a time
waster, said, "Can we help with the dishes?"
"That would be useful," Mrs. Hemingway said.
Later they told each other it was all they could do to choke back their
laughter. That stiff autocratic phrase of Mrs. Hemingway's—that
would be useful—became their private invitation to hysteria. They inverted its icy finality—after all, they were very young—and made of it
the signal for hilarity. If Aunt Ingrid offered to give Gladys a
manicure, for instance—as she often did—Gladys would say, "That
would be useful." If Mary Organ said she was thinking of strolling
down to the public library, they would all call out after her, "That
would be useful." When a man named Eugene Propper proposed to
Aunt Ingrid, she swore she came close to giggling out, "Why, that
would be very useful."
A year later Ernest Hemingway published The Sun Also Rises and
became famous, but by that time my mother and Ingrid and Mary and
Gladys had moved to an apartment on the west side.
This has always seemed to me to be a tragedy of timing. "Why did
you move after only one year?" I used to badger my mother with that
question, and her answer was always the same: "That house was so
cold, we couldn't stand it another winter. We complained and
complained about the heat, but they never did a single thing about it."
My mother never read Hemingway; his reputation intimidated her,
I think. I started early, at fourteen, reading him with eager pleasure,
but also out of a compulsion to fulfill a side of a family contract which I
felt had been allowed to lapse. It seemed to me I had been willed the
sharp perspective of privilege. For instance, I would look up from certain passages in Green Hills of Africa and suddenly think: this is the
voice of a man who grew up in an insufficiently heated house. The
drafty stairs, the icy bedrooms, the two inches of bath water—all these
things tore brokenly into the smoothness of his sentence parts, or so I
thought, and I wanted to reach through the pages and warn him that
he was in mortal danger of exposing himself. Didn't he realize what
those soft places in the prose revealed? Couldn't he see what was so
clearly apparent to the most casual observer, what his pathetic evasions
revealed?
Lately, since I've had lots of time, I've reread his earlier books. A
13 man I know—a man I thought I was in love with—teased me about
being on a Hemingway trip, but it's really an inverse journey. I see
these books differently now; what I thought were unconscious
evasions, I now see as skillfully told lies, lies that have given me a new
respect for Hemingway and the way he coped with a difficult life. I
even started to think that perhaps I could cope with my own.
Then Aunt Ingrid's letter arrived, not a Christmas letter, not a
birthday letter, but a letter that arrived in April in reply to my own unseasonable note. First she told me about the weather in San Diego
which is always superlative, and then about the complete lack of
cooked vegetables at the Centre. She expressed surprise at hearing
from me and regretted that I hadn't sent news about Ray and the
children—she assumed though that they were all fit and fine.
On the second page she explained she had very little recollection
about my mother's year of illness. She vaguely remembered a sickness
of some kind, but was sure it was of a shorter duration—six weeks at
the most. She suggested influenza and then, as an afterthought,
eyestrain. She went on to say, "I can't for the life of me see why you
want to delve into all this ancient history."
The tone was rough, cross; she meant to put me in my place and she
did. I couldn't really blame her. Lies, secrets, casual misrepresentations and small failures of memory—all these things are useful in
their way. History gobbles everything up willy-nilly; it doesn't care a
fig for distinctions; it was all the same—my mother's illness has the
same weight as a missing finger or a wooden leg or a fizzled-out love
affair. Eventually everything gets stuck between a pair of parentheses
or buried in the bottom of a trunk.
I was thinking about this when the phone rang. It was my husband
Ray suggesting we have dinner together. Why not? I said. We met at a
place on Rush Street known for its good authentic Basque food, and
afterwards we sat talking for an hour or two.
He told me that the saddest thing that had ever happened to him
was going to the movie Easy Rider and then coming home and climbing
into a pair of striped pyjamas and going to bed. I asked him why he'd
never told me this before, and he said he didn't know. I accused him of
being secretive, and he smiled and said he'd probably learned it from
me.
I started to tell him that the saddest thing in my life was the bundle
of worthless secrets I carry around in my head, but then I smiled back
at him and said that I loved my secrets, that I would be lost without
them, that they were the only things in the world I could call my own.
14 Lorna Crozier/Tztw Poems
Al's House
Sometimes late at night, the rum bottle
empty, he pushes his chair from the table
and thinks he should go home,
but he's there. He can find his way
up the stairs in the dark, tell you
where Rufus's feet tapped the floor
as he played the fiddle,
where the dog slept, the dog now gone.
He won't speak of the fire
and what it destroyed:
his manuscripts, his marriage,
pictures of his daughters
before they knew
the meaning of absence, of loss.
Before his wife left, they built
the new house around the old.
Still standing, the original frame
prodded the boards into place,
hung the windows where they used to be.
His place, without a doubt, but a dream of it.
Nothing broken or shabby, no signs
of the wearing down of a life.
Fall in Cornerbrook. The maples on the hill
strike their own small flames. While he sits
alone, drinking in the night, moths drift
from the trees, gather on the siding
until the whole house has eyes and wings
ready to take flight,
the old one underneath, still burning.
15 Lines for the Earth
A long line of black ants
moves across the sand, so many
they carve a trail. So many
if you step on one, the line
will not break. It is time
tracking itself. It is one
vast mind moving forward.
Ant after ant, each bears
an egg, a round white syllable.
Somewhere they are stringing them
together. Somewhere under the earth
they are spelling it out.
16 Don Kerr /Two Poems
Salisbury Cathedral from
the Meadow—Sketch
seen close those dabs are slops of white
in the mid distance are sun on cloud's edge
brightness in a tree a flower a meadow
dew on the ground but at whatever distance
it's clear he broke the peace
splashed about in the lake of oil
to make nature dance
by palette and brush stroke
brought clouds and trees to the boil
an early action painter
the splash of the act of art
roars across Salisbury meadow
turns round and round the still point
of man's geometry
Claude's placidity and Gainsborough's
pastoral swirl set spinning;
or, Turner in the real world
17 Salisbury Cathedral from
the Meadow—Painting
from front to back his full world
evanescent yes, all of it
from decayed posts to the grand arch
of the rainbow: post, man and horse
at work, boy at play,
Salisbury Cathedral, rainbow,
clouds, trees, the vanishing
world
there is to the left
a small separate painting
in the manner of Ruisdael
all in darkness
like a varnished bench
in a church
a curve of the channel takes us there
into black that might go on in any
of time's directions
a pastoral landscape yet some force is
writhing in the trees
at war in the clouds
seeping like smoke out of dark channels
some malevolence gathering
over man's cathedral
the trees by waterside
rising like a cry from the earth
skeletons of a dead world
god's in his heaven
is not clear
18 Ken Rivard
Winning Tree
for Bernie
some trees grow downward
through swamp water
straight to the earth's centre
and others race up to sky
while cattails wait in bleachers
ready to applaud the victor
now who will be first
to either brush the sun
or the earth's core
a woman took this picture
from where water meets
land meets cloud
and in this competition
the sky swamp is more crowded
than the sky in the air
at the base of one tree a ladder
from the last person who made it
who climbed into a photographer's world
a world where rivalry is still
the light green foam is a winner's circle
and cannot see its own reflection
as it is too busy readying itself
for when the photographer returns
from that other green world
19 George Amabile
Catch
In the throat
between
islands where the rip-tide
turns, they
let their boats
drift, slipping
the craft of millenia
into that now
alien
atmosphere, the sea.
Living
silver
tumbles into the dark
hold as neurons
threading the lungs
and the full rooms
of the heart
fire—a gap
in the breath, a skipped
pulse at slithery harvest.
So much
death
and life at once it makes
the head spin, lightly
like the double-talk
of oracles, or the sting
and flutter of Greek
songs, at night, in the tavernas
where something fresh
out of time comes back
to dance inside them.
20 E.D. Blodgett
Aubade for Rivers
Xanthos, why do you prophesy my death?
—Homer
1
Sitting in ditches.
Saline odour
of swamp water.
Horses not yet
dead.
Hands seeping.
Silent skin.
How do they come to name the great rivers?
To know there were gods who hid always within
the great rivers, sacred flowing away
to mingle with the sea: bright ecstasy
of salmon breathing within the wakes of gods
and blue divinities. Had I been born
fish, I could not run from holiness.
And what would death be but one return
from flesh to bliss, nothing left but gods
passing, the silence polyphonic praise?
21 I have never been fish. My dreams do not include
gods. The origin of rivers starts at dawn, the sun
all crimson in the east. Guernica I did not dream
was once an origin. All day beneath the sun the rivers
ran, rivers of fish flowing from the sun, through
narrow streets, the rest of houses. The horses
screamed, the children ran, the women wailed, the men
wept. It did not help: some died and were wrecked
against the shore. The sky ran crimson in every place,
the streams flowed down from Guernica, and in the streams
they saw the sky, and silence dying.
The ditches crowd.
I do not know
where they started from.
I do not know
who is alive
and who dies.
This is not
water at my feet.
Some horses
fled.
I dreamt where once Skamandros ran
I saw the flush of corpses there.
I could not see the shore nor sand
but saw the eyes and then fear
descend upon the bodies there.
Nor could I see a face I knew,
but mere sorrow everywhere
and nothing, nothing I could do.
22 Down across the plain it ran
until it emptied in the sea
and then the sea from blue began
to change to blood. This cannot be,
I thought to say, when all across
the plains the great rivers run,
rivers that flow from where Skamandros
flows, so slow to bear the scum
that heroes leave, autumnal red
of streams that start from hands and feet.
And what is left now they are dead
but blood when the rain falls and meat
for fish that turn within their crimson wakes?
How do they speak of gods, serenities
of blue, where fish within their timeless idylls
feed? And how can I, arriving here,
speaking of horses, of how we sat with only
silence for shirts and felt the rain fall
where ditches soaked, none far ever
from watery death, tell you of fish and tell
what mysteries the element of fish
has been, the joyful streams, the flowered banks?
Someone in the ditches danced.
Someone plays the flute.
Transcriptions in the pools
of horses their slow dressage.
How shall this song be called
but Guernica?
23 8
Guernica where the horses screamed.
Guernica where the streets leaked red.
Guernica where the children lost their heads.
Guernica where the arms are filed under A.
Guernica where the rivers gush from roses.
Guernica Guernica Guernica
I want to place your name
into mouths of lovers glossing—
languid dactyl of sighs, your name
the smell of savage isles,
a skin to feel against the air
Guernica I fear the rain
I see the sun drains
within your name the silence
of bone
breaking:
white Guernica where the fish are bombs
10
How wrong these litanies—Guernica is
the breaking of the heart.
Guernica is
a name for flesh, and when I dream I do not dream
of old, oracular streams without the cry
of horses there, the sounds so long ago
but bare refrains, sounds going mad
of someone sleepless for years.
I sense fish
somewhere going round beneath my skin,
design that rivers take, and eyes of fire
waiting within the dark, the silent blood:
24 11
behold silence, it
flowers, the sound at heart
of roses
petals waking
25 Gary Hyland/Two Poems
A Brief History of the Head
of Thomas More
After the blade's neat bite
it spun once spraying blood
and bounced inside the basket.
Spiked on London Bridge
it was a hive for flies
till his daughter saved it,
bathed it, and placed it
in a spice-crammed pot
she kept beneath her bed.
But the brain which had
bemused Erasmus and
fired Henry's ire
shrivelled to a rattle
behind the dreadful grin.
26 Landscape with Figures
This is either a dream
or something I think when
I think I'm asleep:
a long white land —
sky bleached, ground
snow-sheeted, horizon
a line only when three
figures darken into shape —
men in parkas running.
Two carry guns, the third
their quarry, battles drifts
soon stumbles and is taken.
I am too far for their words
or to hear their rifle butts
burst his face and skull.
Yet the landscape remains
white, no red freezing stain
as the killers dissolve
leaving me in white sheets
in this white-walled cell
awake and oddly elated
not knowing if I have dreamed
but knowing one of them (not
always the same one) was me.
27 Gerald Hill
The Invisible Merging of
Concrete and Air
I walk one way, will ride
the bus the other. Pigeons
rise or fall to or from
nests below the bridge
transporting on their wings
pieces of concrete (often
spilling them:
the river has to be dredged
every thirty billion years)
The going to, the coming back, the bridge
I pour my eyes into the infinite
ringing sky (it must be one o'clock)
and gradually my skin falls away
until I'm, or the birds are, blue dust
above a river. I can see
the river steam
and the birds glide.
28 Dennis Cooley
Sunday Morning
Sunday morning
walking   out the back door
geese
(they're coming)
hhhllonnnggk
hhhllloooonnnngggk
8c their fat liquid
pulses &
look i say
the geese they're coming
somewhere behind the pressured air
blind they are
coming lungliquid in their throats
lifting
sacs of air out
dangling into
Megan saying
where's Dana?   Daaana
8c they're there
in the southwest we see them
sway their bodies torpedo
north towing our hurt
our letting go
brains bunched
on wires of sun
in our heads too our eyes
8c pulling
blur the sky the sky it is
wavering
29 it is
full & opening
silver 8c
black
it slivers our eyes
& our rushing
birds   going their way
north in their noise
their stutters
left in the air
30 Bert Almon/Two Poems
The Prestidigitators
How is it both my daughters
fall for jugglers and magicians
Young men who keep three objects going
with two hands or pull coins out of noses
Am I being punished for my steady job?
My blonde child hangs around malls
watching for Joe the Juggler and Jerry the magician
My dark child introduces me to a date who can't shake hands
because his are full and empty    empty and full
When I was younger I too fell for sleight of hand
I gave 54 cents to an aluminum cookware huckster
who dissolved them with a flash and rumble
He sold pots all around but never paid me back
I would wander the shopping centres
bemused by moving staircases that folded into the floor
or stare at a beachball suspended miraculously
in the roar of a vacuum cleaner wand
Do I still miss that handful of change?
Now my daughters hanker after tricksters
no matter how often I warn them
repeating stories out of Ann Landers:
young girls abducted in shopping malls
(Drugged   hair cut and dyed
they sleepwalk past their parents undetected)
I wander the malls on weekends wondering if my children
are in the washroom dyeing their own hair and giggling
The dark one blonde   the blonde one dark
Perhaps they're being smuggled out right now
as two doves in the bottom of a silk hat
31 Will I know them as I go by?
I feel as futile as a ball bouncing
in the concourse fountain
I'm a coin lying in the pool
a face tossed away for luck
32 Water, Sand, A Palm Tree
She tells me how happy she is,
in her small northern town,
with her flowers and garden,
and the woods nearby.
I look
at the album of house and yard,
the pictures of boat and motor home,
and then I see the pages of cartoons
she's clipped out over the years,
all on the desert island situation:
rescue and hopelessness,
the problems of sex and no sex.
She has always sent jars
and bottles into the world,
pickles and relish, the jams
under a plug of paraffin.
I've tasted the wild raspberry,
sweet with a little edge,
the tart flavour of seclusion.
33 Patrick Lane
Apple Peels and Knives
She picks up an apple and slides the knife under the red skin, turning
the apple carefully with the knife so the peeling doesn't break. She
tries to do this with every apple and today she has not succeeded. If
she can do it she will hold the peel at one end in her left hand and
swing the peel around her head three times with her eyes closed. Each
time the peel makes a complete circle she will say, Who is my true love? If
the peel doesn't break as she swings it and she succeeds in saying the
words without anything intruding on her mind, she will drop the peeling on the floor. The shape it takes will be the initial of her true love.
The apple turns slowly in her hand and just as she gets to the hard
part, the part near the end where the blossom used to be, the peeling
breaks. It drops into the sink on top of the others and she slices off the
last bit and cuts the apple into the third pie shell. The first two are full.
There are only two apples left. She picks up the smallest one and
begins again. There is one large red apple left in the sink. She noticed
it when she began making pies and she has left it to the last. Maybe it
will be the one, the one that will tell her.
She learned this when she was a little girl helping her mother. Her
mother was full of superstitions, things you had to do and things you
must never do. Like putting new shoes on the table. She never does
that. She doesn't remember exactly what it means to put new shoes on
the table. Does it mean a death? Strange but she can't remember. She
only remembers she shouldn't do it, so she doesn't.
Or dropping a knife on the floor, or a fork or a spoon. She only remembers what the knife means. Wherever it points it means an unwelcome guest, a visitor, someone who will come and bring bad luck to
the house. Most of the things she remembers are about bad luck. The
knife and the shoes. Other things.
She picks up the last apple and holds it in her right hand. She will
peel this one with the knife in her left hand like she always does, her
woman's hand. If you are a woman her mother told her then it is the
hand where your power is. It is the evil hand if you're a man. She is not
naturally left-handed. She had to train herself to use her left hand for
34 things like peeling apples and now the hand is sure of itself. The knife
feels safe, almost as if it knows this is the precise moment when everything will become clear. The apple will peel itself and then she will
push the knife into the pale white apple flesh, lift the peel in her left
hand and swing it around her head. As she does she will say, Who is my
true love? three times. Then she will know.
As she is thinking this the apple is turning and the knife is slicing
through the skin, the peel coming away from the flesh and settling on
the broken peels in the sink below. The apple turns and the knife
moves with it, both of them moving together, without guidance or
volition, each knowing exactly what it must do in order for the peel to
be perfect.
It is Carl's birthday today. He likes apple pie. She doesn't make it for
him much anymore. She hasn't made apple pies for years. When she
asked him in the morning what he wanted for his birthday, he said
apple pie and kissed her good-bye.
That is why she is making apple pies now. Three because one isn't
enough. It used to be but the twins can eat a whole pie between them
at one sitting if she lets them. She usually lets them. Their names are
Cam and Craig. It was cute seventeen years ago when she named
them. Carl, Cam and Craig. Her three boys, her men. She doesn't
think it is cute anymore. The names make her uneasy now. All the
names did was confuse everyone or worse make them look at her that
way people have and say, isn't that cute.
Her daughter's name is Carla which is even worse. She wonders if
she ever taught Carla about apple peels? She doesn't think so. Carla
was never interested in making apple pies. She wanted to make something out of herself and sometimes she wonders what it is that Carla
has made. Whatever it is, it doesn't resemble her or her own mother.
Carla is different. She guesses that is what Carla was making all those
years when she was growing up, something different. Carla is away at
University. She is studying to be a psychiatrist, like her father. Maybe
that is what she wanted to make out of herself. She doesn't know.
She wants there to be enough pie so Carl will be able to have a second piece. The boys will finish one pie at supper and the second pie
before they go to bed. The boys are still growing. Already they are taller than she is. They have been taller than her for what seems like
years. She wonders how they could ever have been inside her own
body, the two of them together, growing there. And now they are bigger than she is.
She is half-way around the apple and the peel still hasn't broken.
She tries not to think of it breaking. If she does, it will. That is what
her mother told her. Her mother used to say, don't think of it and it
will happen. She never understood what that meant until she was
older. Now she understands it but she can't explain it either, just like
35 her mother couldn't. Even if someone asked she couldn't and it doesn't
matter. No one is going to ask.
She thought Carl was going to say chocolate cake when she asked
him what he wanted but he didn't. He said apple pie. That's why she is
peeling this last apple, why there are two full pie shells and another
one almost full and a sink full of broken peelings. She turns the apple
slowly and the knife moves.
In another year or two the boys will leave and then there will be only
her and Carl for the rest of her life. The boys aren't really boys
anymore, they're men, young men. In a few years they will be the same
age Carl was when she married him. Carla is already past the age she
was when she got married. Carla, her daughter. Carla isn't interested
in getting married. Carla says she will probably never get married and
for sure she will never have any children. She says she doesn't want to
have a life like she did. What was wrong with her life that Carla doesn't
want it?
And Cam and Craig don't want to be married either. When she asks
them they look at each other and laugh. She wishes she knew what
they laughed at when they laugh that way. They tell her things are different now, different from when she was young and married Carl. She
asked Carl about it once and he told her he didn't blame them. What
did blame have to do with it?
The knife is nearing the end where the blossom used to be and she
ignores it. She knows this time the peel will be perfect. She also knows
that the whole thing she is doing with the apple, the knife, and the peel
is childish, something her mother told her in order to entertain a child
when the child was learning to make pies. She knows that. But it
doesn't change anything knowing it. She is watching the knife slide under the last bit of peel and then the peel drops into the sink. It doesn't
break. She knew it wouldn't. She puts the apple down, feeling excited.
She reaches for the peel and drops the knife on the floor. For a
moment she is frightened, a kind of childish fear. She almost wishes
her mother had not filled her head with all those superstitions but she
did. She put them into her head and they stayed there.
She picks up the apple peel at the end with her left hand and lifts it
out of the sink. It is long and red and it curls down from her
outstretched arm like a snake. It looks very beautiful. You are very
beautiful, she says out loud and is surprised at her voice. She closes her
eyes and begins to swing it slowly around her head. Each time it passes
in front of her she says, Who do I truly love? She says it three times and
then she drops it on the floor. She hears it fall, hears the wet slap of the
apple peel on the clean white linoleum.
She stands there with her eyes closed, her arm outstretched, her left
arm with her left hand open in the air. The peel is on the floor in front
of her. It has formed an initial there, she knows that, the initial of her
36 true love, the one who truly loves her. She is going to open her eyes in
a moment and look at it and then she will know, but first she has to
clear her eyes.
Your eyes must be clear, her mother had told her. She never knew
what her mother meant. Now, at this moment, she does. She knows
what it means. In a moment she will lower her arm, her hand, and she
will open her eyes and look at the initial on the floor and when she
does, she will know. Then she will pick up the peel and throw it in the
garbage under the sink and she will put the pies in the oven and cook
them until the crusts are a golden brown. If Carla were here she would
tell her about apple peels and knives.
But the others will be here. They will all arrive together. They will
be laughing and excited and Carl will put his arms around her and say
he loves her and she will say Happy Birthday to him and the boys will
say it too. But first she has to stop thinking. Her eyes have to be clear,
perfectly clear, and right now they aren't and she wants them to be,
knows they have to be so when she looks at the floor the apple peel will
be able to tell her. Then she will know with her eyes wide open and
clear and she will pick up the knife and go on with her life. She is
standing there with her eyes closed. Everything will happen in a
moment.
37 Warren Graves
The Last Real Summer
Act One
CHARACTERS
DR. ELIZABETH WHARTON, retired.
HERBERT TINGLEY, her father.
LIZZIE TINGLEY, herself at seventeen.
MOLLY TINGLEY, her mother.
DOUG CAMERON, her first boyfriend.
PEGGY CAMERON, his mother.
DUNCAN CAMERON, his father.
SETTING
The stage is divided into three fluid areas: the Tingley home, the
Cameron home and, centrally, the barn where LIZZIE and DOUG
used to meet.
(Houselights  down.   Silence.   Lights   up   on   ELIZABETH.)
ELIZABETH: I'm not sure why I wanted to come back here again.
Looking for something, I suppose. Some sort of
review of my life. What it was all about. Whether it
made any sense. Or maybe I just wanted to wallow in
old memories, and feel the warmth of them again.
Not a good thing for a woman my age to do, of
course. But after so many years of being practical and
sensible, I find that being eccentric comes as a relief.
38 MOLLY:
HERBERT:
MOLLY:
HERBERT:
MOLLY:
HERBERT:
MOLLY:
HERBERT:
MOLLY:
HERBERT:
ELIZABETH:
It means I can do whatever I like and not feel there
has to be any particular reason for it. So I came back
here. To see where it all began.
It's not the same, of course. How could it be? What
did surprise me was how much it hadn't changed. Our
old house is still on the corner. The garden is different. Somebody has put a garage where the swing
tree used to be . . . but the house is still there . . . my
bedroom looking down onto the street. . . and for a
moment I thought I saw Dougie . . . throwing stones
up at my window.
I wanted to walk up the path again, but if I did that, I
would have to knock on the door, and somebody
might answer it, and then what would I say? "I used
to live here." They might pretend to be interested,
and then I would have to talk about it—and I didn't
want that. I wanted to imagine that it was still the
same . . . still warm and comfortable . . . and the place
where I could be a child again.
(Tingley area lit. HERBERT sits in an armchair marking exercise books. MOLLY enters in her dressing
gown.)
Is she not in yet?
Er—no. Not yet.
Herbert. Have you seen the time?
Yes.
(Pause.)
Well I'm going to bed.
Good night dear.
Herbert. I really think you ought to speak to her.
She's only seventeen, and she should be home before
this. Are you listening?
Er—yes. Yes, I will.
Heaven knows what these young people get up to.
(Pause.) And don't you stay up all night either!
All right, dear.
(MOLLY leaves, exasperated. Once she's gone, HERBERT quietly gets out his pipe, tobacco, and the newspaper. )
I really loved my father. He seemed such a calm and
self-contained man. Somebody who was always there.
I think it was the solid structure of the house and the
reliability of my father that gave me such a happy
39 childhood. He and I always seemed to understand
each other without having to say anything, especially
when Mother was being a bit "Irish."
(LIZZIE enters softly, wearing a party dress. She stares
at her father, but he does not appear to notice.)
LIZZIE:
"And what time do you call this, Miss Tingley?"
HERBERT:
Is that what I'm going to say?
LIZZIE:
I expect so. And then something about "you know
how your mother and I worry when you are out late."
HERBERT:
Your mother has gone to bed, and I am reading the
newspaper.
LIZZIE:
And smoking a pipe.
HERBERT:
The smell will be gone by the morning.
(Pause.)
LIZZIE:
Did Mum really go to bed?
HERBERT:
She usually does at this time of night.
LIZZIE:
Didn't she say anything?
HERBERT:
She said good night.
LIZZIE:
I mean about me being out late. It's after one.
HERBERT:
Hmm.
LIZZIE:
What does "hmm" mean?
HERBERT:
It means if you wanted to say anything about that,
you would have my undivided attention.
LIZZIE:
... It wasn't a very good dance.
HERBERT:
How did you get home?
LIZZIE:
Gerry Rasmussen brought me home in his truck.
HERBERT:
What happened to Douglas Cameron?
LIZZIE:
(Miffed.) I don't know.
HERBERT:
Oh, I see. Not quite the evening anticipated.
LIZZIE:
I wish you weren't the principal, Dad.
HERBERT:
Why?
LIZZIE:
They all think I tell you everything we do.
HERBERT:
And don't you?
LIZZIE:
Yes. Well. Maybe not absolutely everything.
HERBERT:
I'm not sure I was to know "absolutely everything."
You told me about Oggie's frog.
(LIZZIE laughs.)
Bit embarrassing really. I stormed and raged. Kept
the class in after school. And all the time I knew
whose fault it was. But I played my part. Don't worry,
dear. I won't let you down.
ELIZABETH:
But you did eventually, didn't you?
HERBERT:
Did I? How?
ELIZABETH:
You died. That was a terrible thing to do to me.
i	
40 HERBERT:
ELIZABETH:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
ELIZABETH:
Yes. Sorry about that.
I have never felt so alone in my life.
That's what growing up means, Lizzie. Learning to be
alone.
What shall I be when I grow up?
Very tired if you don't start getting to bed earlier.
No, seriously.
What would you like to be?
The captain of a ship.
All right.
Would you let me?
If that's what you want to be. I'll write to all the shipping lines  to see  if they  have any vacancies  for a
seventeen-year-old girl with no qualifications.
Write tomorrow.
Sunday tomorrow. The post office won't be open.
You could write tomorrow and post them on Monday.
Yes, that's true. If I've got the addresses.
You don't have the addresses.
I don't think so.
So you won't write.
Well, not much point if I don't have the addresses.
You wriggle out of everything, don't you?
I'm not wriggling out. It's called taking the line of
least resistance. When you've been dealing with children as long as I have, it becomes a sort of art form.
(Pause.) What do you want to be a ship's captain for
anyway?
See the world.
And be the boss.
Yeah, that too. But I'd like to see the world.
Ship's captains see the sea mostly. I suppose bits of
the world turn up from time to time.
You saw the world didn't you—in the war.
I saw broken bits of it.
What's it like?
Quite exciting to start off with, but the novelty tends
to wear off.
Why?
It can be quite a shabby place.
(Lights fade in Tingleys as LIZZIE kisses her father and
goes off to bed: he folds his newspaper and follows.)
I thought that was a very strange thing for him to say.
41 It never occurred to me to ask my father about him
self while he was alive. It was only after he died that I
asked my mother. She talked about passion and des
pair, adventure and disappointment. I couldn't be
lieve she was talking about the same man. All I could
remember him as was a smiling man who sat in an
armchair  marking exercise books,  and  smoking a
pipe after mother had gone to bed.
(Lights up in Tingleys: MOLLY enters.)
MOLLY:
Lizzie? Lizzie! Have you seen the time?
LIZZIE:
(Off.) Coming.
MOLLY:
That girl.
(LIZZIE rushes in and grabs schoolbooks.)
Have you had your breakfast?
LIZZIE:
I had some toast.
MOLLY:
Elizabeth. I am not going to tell you again. You must
have a good breakfast before you go to school. It's
such a long day.
LIZZIE:
I don't have time.
MOLLY:
If you got up when I called you, you have plenty of
time.
LIZZIE:
Yes, Mum.
MOLLY:
Is that the dress you were wearing yesterday?
LIZZIE:
Yes.
MOLLY:
Go and change.
LIZZIE:
I don't have time to change.
MOLLY:
You can change your dress and go to school with your
father.
LIZZIE:
Mo-ther! I can't arrive at school with the principal.
MOLLY:
What nonsense. Everybody knows he's your father.
LIZZIE:
He's not my father, he's the principal.
(MOLLY grabs LIZZIE and tidies her.)
MOLLY:
You just listen to me, young lady. Tomorrow you will
get up when I call you and you will eat a good break
fast. This really ought to be in the wash. Did you do
that homework?
LIZZIE:
I'm going to do it tonight.
MOLLY:
Well you come straight home and get it done. Then
you can go to bed early for once.
LIZZIE:
I have to go to Cameron's on the way home.
MOLLY:
What for?
LIZZIE:
Dad says I should take Doug some homework so that
he doesn't fall behind. He's sick.
MOLLY:
Sick my foot. His father's starting seeding and keep
ing him home. Why do you have to go? Is there no
i	
42 one who lives nearer the Cameron's than us?
LIZZIE: I have to go because I said I would.
MOLLY: Don't forget your lunch.
LIZZIE: I have my lunch.
MOLLY: Don't forget to eat it.
LIZZIE: I won't.
MOLLY: Did you give the recipe back to Mrs. Olsen?
LIZZIE: Yes, yes. Mum I have to go. (Kisses her, leaves.)
MOLLY: (Calling.) Did you say thank you? Oh what's the use.
No time for anything. I don't know what's wrong with
the girl.
ELIZABETH:    When did you first know about Doug?
MOLLY: Oh Lizzie, I always knew. The look on your face. But
Lizzie, for goodness sake, you were only seventeen.
ELIZABETH:    You were married and had me at nineteen.
MOLLY: No reason for you to make the same mistakes I did.
ELIZABETH:    Was I a mistake?
MOLLY: .. . You're a bright girl, Lizzie, and you're pretty
enough. You can go a long way in the world. You
don't want to get mixed up with young Douglas
Cameron. You're too young.
ELIZABETH: But Mother, I was mixed up with young Douglas
Cameron.
MOLLY: Nonsense. It's nothing serious. I'm not going to make
anything of it. I start saying something to you and
you'll do the opposite to spite me. I'm going to leave
well enough alone, and mark my words, it'll all go
away.
ELIZABETH:    It won't go away, Mother.
MOLLY: (Sadly.) But it did, Lizzie. Don't you see? It did.
ELIZABETH:    Did it?
MOLLY: Oh stop fussing me girl. You get me so fussed, I don't
know what I'm saying half of the time. (Exit.)
(Lightsfade in Tingleys.)
ELIZABETH: Poor Mother. When my daughter was seventeen, I
wanted to run away. My child was turning into a
woman and there were so many things that / hadn't
done yet. I couldn't bear the thought that time was
slipping away, and I might never get the chance. Now
Kathy is married and has a family of her own—so she
won't get the chance either. Maybe we should talk
about that.
(Lights in barn. DOUG lying on some straw. LIZZIE
enters with schoolbooks.)
LIZZIE: Doug?
DOUG: Yo?
43 LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
What are you doing in here?
Hiding from my old man. He's trying to kill me.
Why weren't you at the dance last night?
I'm sick.
You are not sick.
I am so sick. My old man even sent a note to the principal. Didn't your dad get it?
Yeah, he got it. He said the ground must have dried
out early this year. (Throws books at him.) He says if you
don't finish your assignments he can't pass you to
Grade Eleven.
Thanks. Too bad I'm too sick to finish my assignments.
Everybody knows you are not sick.
Guess I'll just have to die and smarten everybody up.
(Concerned.) You're not really sick are you?
Holy Cow, are you deaf or something? I'm sick. My
old man is dragging me out of bed in the middle of
the night to start working.  He says I'd wake up
quicker if I washed under the pump like he does. I'm
sick of that for a start. Then he takes the horses out to
the field, and I'm stuck in the barn with the seed and
getting all  that green powder stuff in my throat.
Then he comes in and says, "Is that all you've done?"
I'm sick of that.  I'm going blind,  I'm choking to
death, and then the principal's daughter turns up
with my assignments. How sick can you get?
I'm sorry.
Oh sure.
I am.
Show me.
No.
Aw come on, Lizzie.
No.
How can you say no to a dying man?
LIZZIE: You are not dying.
DOUG: I am so dying. Parts of me are going stiff already.
LIZZIE: (Furious.) You stop talking like that Douglas Cameron
or I'm walking right out of here.
DOUG: Okay, okay. Jeez.
LIZZIE: You hear me?
DOUG: So take the assignments with you, okay?
LIZZIE: I'm just trying to help, that's all.
DOUG: Well if I needed that kind of help . . .
44 LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
(He collapses to the floor, coughing and clutching his
chest. LIZZIE, concerned and conned, hurries to him.)
Doug? What is it?
I told you. I'm sick.
Oh Dougie!
I am. Swear to God. I got sleeping sickness, working
sickness, blisters, frostbite. Just one?
No.
Please?
I know you.
I'm so weak, Lizzie.
Oh sure. That's what you said last time.
I'll keep my hands behind my back.
Solemn oath?
Swear to God.
Well. . . okay.
(She kisses him swiftly and chastely. DOUG is "born
again.")
I'm going to live. I'm going to live. My eyes. I can see!
I can see Old Sam picking cotton off the tree and a
cricket singing in the sky. It's going to be different
from now on. You'll never see me in here again, Warden. I'll get a job I And I owe it all to you, Missy
Tingley.
(DOUG lunges at LIZZIE, she screams, escapes, grabs
a hayrake and socks DOUG heftily. He collapses to the
floor and lies still.)
Oh for gosh sakes. Doug?
(As LIZZIE reaches him, he grabs her suddenly and
fights her into submission as he would another boy.)
I can hear that steamboat coming down the river,
bringing our boys home from the war ... (Sings.) "Oh
say can you see ..."
I can't breathe.
Great. You talk too much when you can breathe.
Doug, please!
Do it right then.
No!
YES!
(He pulls LIZZIE up into the sitting position. She glowers at him. He moves in slowly and kisses her.)
I wouldn't hurt you. You're my Lizzie.
(She stares at him. They break and she stands up. Pause.)
I wish you wouldn't keep doing that.
Why not?
45 LIZZIE:
I don't know.
DOUG:
You like it don't you? (Sing-song.) You like it, you like
it, you like it. ..
LIZZIE:
Shut up. (Pause.) Why didn't you come to the dance
last night?
DOUG:
Are you kidding? By the time we finished, I could
hardly stand up.
LIZZIE:
Gerry Rasmussen took me home in his truck.
DOUG:
So?
LIZZIE:
It was one o'clock in the morning.
DOUG:
I'd had four hours sleep by then.
LIZZIE:
Don't you care?
DOUG:
About what?
LIZZIE:
Me going home with Gerry Rasmussen in his truck.
DOUG:
Did he hit something?
LIZZIE:
No.
DOUG:
I thought maybe there'd been an accident or some
thing.
LIZZIE:
No, there wasn't an accident. He drove me home
safely and carefully and it was one o'clock in the
morning.
DOUG:
(Realization.) He got his headlights fixed.
(LIZZIE,furious, starts to leave.)
DOUG:
Where you going?
LIZZIE:
I just dropped by because my dad wanted you to have
the books, okay? (Exits.)
DOUG:
Hey, Lizzie . . . Jeez.
(Lightsfade in barn.)
ELIZABETH:
I am still not completely sure who treats who the
worst—men or women. I try to take an unbiased view
whenever I can. I really had a thing about Doug that
summer, and I was furious with myself. He was such
an oaf.
One night, quite late, he came to see my father. I
could hear voices downstairs but I couldn't make out
who it was—so I went out into the garden and looked
in through the window. And there they were the two
of them, Douglas Cameron and my father, frowning
and nodding at each other, so I could tell it was
serious men talk. The next morning, my father told
us that Doug and his father had been arguing about
something, and Doug had come to our house to look
it up in the Encyclopedia Brittanica. It seems Doug
was right and his father was wrong. Maybe there was
more to this hooligan than I thought.
(Lights up in Cameron kitchen. PEGGY returning from
i	
46 answering the door carrying a vegetable scraper. LIZ-
ZlEfollows her in.)
PEGGY: Come in dear. I was just doing the carrots for supper.
Will you stay for supper?
LIZZIE: No, that's fine Mrs. Cameron. I have to be home for
supper.
PEGGY: Sit down dear. Tell your father I think it's real nice of
him sending the schoolwork for Doug. I wish he
didn't have to miss school but his Dad says the seeding is more important. That's right enough I suppose
if we are going to have food on the table. How's your
mother?
LIZZIE: She's fine.
PEGGY: That's good. How are you doing at school?
LIZZIE: Okay ... I guess.
PEGGY: Doug says you are one of the clever ones. He says you
have to be with your dad being the principal and all.
That's a good thing for a girl to be smart, but you
mustn't be too clever to enjoy yourself, you know. Did
you go to the dance?
LIZZIE: Yes.
PEGGY: Dougie wanted to go but his dad said there were
more important things to do. It's different for a boy
isn't it?
(DUNCAN enters.)
Oh there you are. I was wondering where you had
got to.
DUNCAN: How long till supper?
PEGGY: About an hour.
DUNCAN: I'm needing some more barbed wire.
PEGGY: Doug can go for you.
DUNCAN: I don't know where the hell he is. I'll go myself.
PEGGY: Duncan, this is Lizzie Tingley from the school. She
brought Douglas's books so that he won't get too far
behind. Wasn't that kind of her?
(DOUG enters,)
DUNCAN: Where the hell have you been? I'm needing some
barbed wire from the store.
DOUG: I'll go.
DUNCAN: I'll go myself. You fill the troughs and feed the chick
ens. And you can have another look for those wire
cutters while you're out there. We're going to be
needing them and I'm damned if I'll buy another
pair. (Exits.)
PEGGY: Are you sure you can't remember where you left
them, Doug?
DOUG: If I could remember where I left them, I could find
47 them, couldn't I?
PEGGY:
They must be along that fence somewhere.
DOUG:
I'll try again.
PEGGY:
They were very expensive.
DOUG:
I know.
LIZZIE:
I think I should be going, Mrs. Cameron. I have to
get back for supper.
PEGGY:
Are you sure you won't stay dear? You're very wel
come.
LIZZIE:
I'd better not. My folks will be wondering.
PEGGY:
Maybe some other time. Let me just get a pot of jam
for your mother. The strawberries were very good
last year. (Exits.)
(Pause.)
DOUG:
Thought you'd gone.
LIZZIE:
Just going.
DOUG:
Hey listen. Don't eat the strawberry jam. I put some
of Oggie's love potion in it. Make you go round kiss
ing guys and all that kind of stuff.
LIZZIE:
So?
DOUG:
So?
(PEGGY returns with jam.)
PEGGY:
Here you are dear. Tell your mother I'm glad she's
well, and thank your father for being so thoughtful.
LIZZIE:
I will. Good bye Mrs. Cameron.
DOUG:
I'd better walk you off the property. I didn't feed the
chickens yet. They could attack you and eat you.
PEGGY:
Oh don't listen to him.  He gets it off those radio
shows. Amos and Andy.
DOUG:
No, this was on the news. It really happened. These
starving chickens went crazy and attacked a whole
city—with knives and forks.
PEGGY:
I don't believe that.
DOUG:
Best not take any chances. I'll walk you to the road.
PEGGY:
Come back and see us again dear, any time.
(DOUG and LIZZIE leave.)
PEGGY:
My  son  and  the  principal's  daughter.  Well.   How
about that.
(Lights fade on Camerons.)
ELIZABETH:
By   this   time   everybody   knew   about   me   and
Doug—except Doug. Walking back to the road, I was
being aloof, and he was trying to make me laugh. He
could always make me laugh. By the time we got to
the road again, I was chattering away, and wondering
i	
48 if he was going to try and kiss me again. He was right.
I did like it. But I couldn't tell him that or he'd never
want to do anything else. Then he said he had to get
back to the chickens—and he just left. Not even a
joke. That made me mad at him all over again.
There's nothing worse than getting ready to say no to
a man and then finding you don't have to. That was
the night he came to throw stones at the window. He
said while he was feeding the chickens he reckoned I
owed him one. I told him to stop yelling in the middle
of the night, and he said he couldn't because he was
surrounded by chickens with knives and forks singing, "Come and join us." I told him to go away. So I
got my own back, and I didn't think my parents had
heard us.
(fights up in  Tingleys.   HERBERT putting on his
shoes. MOLLY enters with his lunchbox.)
MOLLY: I've made some cheese sandwiches and put some
slices of onion in separate.
HERBERT:        Onion?!
MOLLY: It's good for you. You don't have to eat it. See how
you feel.
HERBERT: I don't think I want to go to school today.
MOLLY: Shall I give you a note for the principal.
HERBERT: Yes. Tell him I'm starting my life over again, and this
time I am going into the family business. That's what
I should have done you know, Molly.
MOLLY: Sure you should. And if I'd had any sense I'd have
stayed in Ireland.
HERBERT:        Might have been easier, mightn't it.
MOLLY: Much easier. And if you'd got killed in the war, you
wouldn't have any troubles at all by now.
(LIZZIE enters with schoolbooks, yawning.)
MOLLY: Well look at that now. She's up early for once.
HERBERT: Meant to ask you about that, Molly. Did you hear any
strange noises in the night?
MOLLY: No, I heard nothing.
HERBERT: How about you, Lizzie? Did you hear anything?
LIZZIE: What sort of noises?
HERBERT:        Strange noises. Sort of clicking and people whispering.
LIZZIE: What sort of clicking?
MOLLY: Do you think it was burglars trying to break in?
trying one of the windows maybe?
HERBERT:        No, I don't think it was that. Sounded more like a
49 bunch of chickens with knives and forks.
(MOLLY hoots with laughter and LIZZIE hits him.)
LIZZIE: I won't come to school with you if you are going to
tease me.
MOLLY: Saints be praised.
HERBERT:        Are you coming to school with me this morning?
LIZZIE: Yes.
HERBERT:        Does that mean I have to go as well?
LIZZIE: What?
MOLLY: Take no notice of him. He was thinking of making a
start on his second childhood this morning.
HERBERT: I've changed my mind. We'll do it, Lizzie. We will em
bark on a new day with firm and purposeful steps.
MOLLY: You'd better speed up those firm and purposeful
steps or you are both going to be late.
HERBERT:        I shall give us both a detention.
(Taking LIZZIE'S arm into his, they stride out together.)
MOLLY: Tell the principal I'll be holding a good supper.
(She watches them leave, smiling and shaking her head.
Lights fade in Tingleys.)
ELIZABETH: I'm glad I remember that. It was a beautiful day. One
of those days where you don't have to worry about
anything because everything is working out just fine
by itself.
I came home from school, did my homework, and
went to bed early. My normally perceptive parents
didn't seem to find this at all suspicious. They should
have.
I lay in my bed waiting, forever it seemed. Finally I
heard them go to bed, and the house fell quiet. I
could hear my heart pumping like a two stroke. Was I
really going to do this? All I had to do was get out of
bed, put on my clothes, walk down the stairs and out
of the house. I had done that hundreds of times
before, of course .. . but never in the middle of the
night with my parents in bed and the house so quiet.
My legs wouldn't move. I tried saying, "NOW" and
"THIS IS IT"—but nothing happened. I can remember my mother saying, "An act of will is the easiest
thing in the world. You make up your mind, and you
do it." She said it about taking medicine, cracking
eggs, jumping off the boat dock. I don't think she
meant to include meeting a boy in the middle of the
50 LIZZIE:
ELIZABETH:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
night, but I felt the principle was the same. It was all
the time Doug had. His father was keeping him busy
while it was light.
I thought of Dougie waiting for me—and my legs
moved at last. I stood in the white moonlight of the
bedroom and my heart was so high in my chest I
could hardly breathe. Now. This is it. This is what I
was going to do.
(Lights up in barn. DOUG asleep. LIZZIE tiptoes in.)
Doug?
I had never seen Doug asleep before. He was so quiet
and still, I thought he was dead.
Doug? Doug! (Shakes him: he rolls over.) Well here's a
fine thing. I walk all this way and you are fast asleep.
Doug? I nearly didn't come you know. Sneaking out
of the house and creeping down the stairs. Do you
know how noisy our staircase is in the middle of the
night? Suppose my dad wakes up and finds out I've
gone? Doug? Are you awake or not?
Yeah. Yeah, I'm awake.
(He reaches out to pull LIZZIE into his arm. She resists.
He quits. Pause. LIZZIE arranges his arm around her.
Pause.    She    settles    comfortably,    smiling.    Pause.
Finally . . . )
Doug?
Hmm?
Are you sure you're awake?
I'm sorry, Lizzie. I'm so tired.
That's okay.
My old man is trying to kill me.
Poor Dougie. How much more do you have to do?
You know the pump in the yard?
Yeah.
From there to Saskatchewan.
I guess really you ought to be in bed.
Wanna come?
(LIZZIE hauls off to hit him: he covers up.)
I'm not doing anything.
(They resume previous position warily. Pause.)
Doug?
Mmm?
Are we in love?
I dunno. Why don't you look it up in your old man's
encyclopedia?
I'm serious. I never had a boyfriend before.
51 DOUG:
Gee, Lizzie, I'm sorry. I didn't know you had a boy
friend.
LIZZIE:
I'm talking about you, dummy.
DOUG:
Dummy! Thanks a heap.
(Pause.)
LIZZIE:
I think I'm in love.
DOUG:
What's it like?
LIZZIE:
What?
DOUG:
Being in love.
LIZZIE:
It's okay.
DOUG:
Does it hurt?
LIZZIE:
Yeah. Sort of. Kind of scary too.
DOUG:
Why?
LIZZIE:
Oh you know. Getting married. Having babies.
DOUG:
(Awake.) Whuh?
LIZZIE:
I mean I know that's what other people do, but I
thought it meant other  people.  I  never thought it
about me. Did you think it about you?
DOUG:
Hell no,  I'm too young.  (Pause.) You're not really
thinking about that kind of stuff are you Liz?
LIZZIE:
Well no. Not yet. (DOUG slumbers gratefully off: pause.)
My mother says I'm too young. She was married and
had a baby at nineteen. She says that's too young. Are
you asleep again? (Hits him.)
DOUG:
Quit that.
(Pause.)
LIZZIE:
You can kiss me if you want to.
DOUG:
I'm too tired.
LIZZIE:
Well... I could kiss you.
DOUG:
Okay. That would be nice.
(LIZZIE ventures this, then is delighted at her audacity.
She arranges DOUG around her.)
ELIZABETH:
I was surprised at myself. All those times I had stood
conveniently near Mr. Douglas Cameron so that he
could put his arm around me, or kiss me if he was
quick enough—and then I would scold him when he
did . . . now it was different. By the end of the eve
ning, if I wanted to be kissed, I just helped myself. It
was a new and wonderful freedom. I was a hussy at
last.
I got home that night on Doug's old bicycle. Flying
through the night like a demented wood sprite. That
was the image I had of myself. "I am a demented
wood sprite." I must have read it somewhere. I re-
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^H
52 HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
MOLLY:
HERBERT:
MOLLY:
HERBERT:
MOLLY:
HERBERT:
MOLLY:
HERBERT:
MOLLY:
ELIZABETH:
membered the phrase about ten years ago. We were
in Houston for an oil meeting and the banquet the
night before should have been very enjoyable. Unfortunately I had a filthy cold, and I spent the evening
surrounded by some of the youngest looking middle-
aged women it has ever been my misfortune to stand
comparison with. I was looking into the bathroom
mirror the next morning and that phrase came back.
"You are a demented wood sprite." I laughed so hard
that Harvey said, "Guess you're feeling a whole heap
better today, eh Liz?" He was such a lovely man. I
only wish I could have loved him as much as he
wanted me to.
(Lights up in Tingleys. LIZZIE is looking for school-
books. HERBERT enters, tying his tie.)
There appears to be a bicycle in the front yard.
What?
A bicycle.
Oh. Yes. It's Doug's. He said I could borrow it.
What for?
To ride to school.
I thought you'd got used to the idea of coming with
me?
It's good exercise. You're always saying I should get
more exercise.
When did he lend it to you?
Oh .. . weeks ago. But I had to get the flat tire fixed
first. (Exit.) Bye Dad.
(MOLLY enters, bringing HERBERT'S coat.)
Did you know about this?
What?
Young Cameron lending Lizzie his bike for school?
And maybe to cycle out to the farm in the evenings?
Is that what she's doing?
I don't think so. But I daresay the idea will occur to
her eventually.
I'm not sure I like the sound of that.
Well you've nobody but yourself to blame. You're the
one that's encouraging them.
Me?
Oh go on with you, don't take any notice. If she wants
to pedal her way out to Cameron's and back, she's got
her evenings cut out for her. She'll not do it too often.
(Brushes HERBERT'S coat.)
She was wrong of course. Within three weeks I could
53 have qualified for the Olympics.
MOLLY:
There, now. Get off with you.
(Lightsfade in Tingleys.)
ELIZABETH:
It was a cranky old bike with a heavy iron frame and
"sit up and beg" handlebars . . . but when love oils the
wheels. Maybe I did do it too often. Once too often.
I'm still not sure about that. It all began when Doug
told me about his conversation with Oggie and "the
points system." It was just boy talk of course, but it
made me furious ...
(Light barn area. DOUG picking at straw angrily, LIZ
ZIE fuming in the corner.)
DOUG:
Dammit! I wish I hadn't told you about it.
LIZZIE:
Well you did.
DOUG:
Well I wish I hadn't.
LIZZIE:
Did you tell Oggie how many points you score with
DOUG:
Course not.
LIZZIE:
I'll bet you just did.
DOUG:
Honest, Lizzie.
LIZZIE:
I'll bet you all get together over at Hanson's, with
some of that stuff from the bootlegger, and you all
boast about how many points you got this week.
DOUG:
We do not.
LIZZIE:
You mean the others don't talk about it?
DOUG:
Well sure they do.
LIZZIE:
But you don't.
DOUG:
No, I don't.
LIZZIE:
Don't they ask you?
DOUG:
Why should they ask me?
LIZZIE:
Oh come on, Doug. They all know I come over here.
Oggie was round school the other day squeezing the
tires on the bike and pretending they were so hot he
burned his hand.
(DOUG laughs.)
LIZZIE:
I don't think it's funny.
DOUG:
Did I ever tell you about the time he spooked old man
Ramsdale?
LIZZIE:
What do you tell them when they ask you—cross your
heart and hope to die.
DOUG:
I swear to God, Lizzie, I don't tell them anything. It's
none of their damned business.
LIZZIE:
But you have to tell them something.
DOUG:
No I don't. I just sort of—grin.
LIZZIE:
Grin?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^H
54 DOUG: Right.
LIZZIE: And they don't ask you how many points and where?
DOUG: No. (Pause.) Hey, look. It's getting pretty late . . .
LIZZIE: Show me how you grin.
DOUG: What?
LIZZIE: Show me how you grin.
DOUG: What are you talking about?
LIZZIE: I'm Oggie and I'm saying to you—"Hey Dougie, how
many points did you score with Lizzie Tingley last
night?" Now grin.
DOUG: Aw come on Liz.
LIZZIE: You just grin, Douglas Cameron, or I'll never speak
to you again.
DOUG: Well I dunno . . . it's sort of. . .
(LiO\JG finally grins and all is explained. It is the grin
of a man who has scored all the points LIZZIE
TINGLEY has to offer.)
LIZZIE: They think that?
DOUG: What?
LIZZIE: They think you are doing it to me?
DOUG: How am I supposed to know what people are think
ing? I'm a mind reader or something?
LIZZIE: You know what they are thinking, and you are not
telling them any different are you!
DOUG: I'm not telling them anything! I'm just grinning, fer
Chrissake!
LIZZIE: Well you start telling the truth.
DOUG: What?
LIZZIE: About tonight. You tell them the truth about tonight.
DOUG: Look Lizzie, it has nothing to do with us. It's just
something they talk about, and I have to go along
with it. I don't tell them anything.
(LIZZIE grabs his hand and moves it over her body.)
LIZZIE: Well tomorrow you will. (Claps his hand on her calf.) A
leg. That's two points, right? RIGHT!
DOUG: Right.
LIZZIE: A knee.  That's four points.  Leg under the skirt.
That's five.
DOUG: Six.
LIZZIE: Oh. The big six. Is this a big score? Are you having
fun, Dougie? Will the boys be impressed?
(Unbuttoning her blouse.) What do you get for a tit under the blouse? Let's really give them something to
talk about. Doug! I said what do you get for a tit under the blouse?
55 DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
LIZZIE:
DOUG:
ELIZABETH:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
(Miserable.) Ten.
HOW MANY!
TEN!
Well, what are you waiting for? Twenty points right
there. All you have to do is grab with both hands.
(She sits in front of him with her blouse pulled open, staring into his face. He stares into hers, reaches out one
hand, index finger crooked, and touches her breast.)
(Softly.)   That's   real   soft,   Lizzie.   Warm   and   soft.
(Withdraws his hand.) That's real nice. Thank you.
(Pause.)
I'm not even going to talk about it any more. It's none
of their damned business.
(Pause.)
Doug?
Yeah?
I love you.
Yeah. I know.
I like you touching me.
Yeah. I know.
(He looks at her sadly, rises and leaves, and the lights go
down in the barn.)
September came and the summer ended. September
the first. I remember that day very clearly. Doug had
got the truck and we went into the city to see a movie.
In those days, The Journal used to bring out a special
edition if there was a particularly big news story. My
father asked me to look out for one while we were
there. Just before we went into the Rialto I heard the
newsboys calling out, "Extra. Extra," so I bought one.
I didn't look at it. We were late, and anyway, I wasn't
really interested in newspapers. We saw Irene Dunne
and Charles Boyer in When Tomorrow Comes. Doug
put his arm around me and kept it there even after
the back of the seat had cut off his blood supply. So
she had Charles Boyer, and I had Doug. That seemed
fair.
(Lights up in Tingleys. HERBERT reading the special
edition. LIZZIE comes in.)
Good night, Dad ... Dad?
What?
You okay?
There's going to be another war, Lizzie.
When?
56 HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
LIZZIE:
HERBERT:
DUNCAN:
PEGGY:
DUNCAN:
PEGGY:
DUNCAN:
PEGGY:
DUNCAN:
PEGGY:
DUNCAN:
PEGGY:
DUNCAN:
PEGGY:
DUNCAN:
PEGGY:
DUNCAN:
PEGGY:
DUNCAN:
PEGGY:
DUNCAN:
PEGGY:
DUNCAN:
Soon. Maybe it has already started.
Who's fighting it this time?
Same people as last time.
Oh good. No reason why we should get mixed up in
it. Good night, Dad. (She kisses him and goes off to bed.)
Hear that, gentlemen? No reason why we should get
mixed up in it.
(Crossfade lights from Tingleys to Camerons.  DUNCAN is also reading the paper. PEGGY is knitting.)
Bloody fools.
Who's that, dear?
All these kids rushing into Edmonton to volunteer.
Yes, I know. Isn't it wonderful?
What the hell are you talking about?
I'm very proud of them. It's nice to think the Old
Country means so much to them.
What Old Country?
Our Old Country.
You think Werner Grimmelt's boys will join the 49th
to fight the Germans?
Well no, I don't suppose they'll do that. They'll probably stay on the farm and help their dad.
How the hell can they do that if we start a war with
Germany?
Well I don't know, dear. Maybe there won't be a war.
Wasn't Mr.  Chamberlain going to speak to Hitler
about it?
Huh.
I must say the King didn't look very well when he was
here. All the crowds and cheering and the flags. And
then his poor drawn face. He did look quite drawn,
didn't he? But I'm glad we went. Can't have the King
and Queen visit and not wave to them, can you? She
was smiling. Waving.
Aye. There's a lot of smiling and waving goes on.
You've never talked much about the war. It must be
quite exciting really.
Aye.
Doug was asking me about it the other day.
Doug was?
Yes. He was reading something in the paper and I
said I didn't really know. I said he should talk to you.
Did he say anything?
No.
57 PEGGY: Maybe you should tell him about it.
DUNCAN: What am I supposed to tell him?
PEGGY: About your experiences.
DUNCAN: About the time I was standing in mud and water up
to my knees and pissing on a sock?
PEGGY: Duncan!
DUNCAN: It was called mustard gas. When you saw it drifting
towards you there were only two things you could do.
If you ran away from it, you had to run downwind
and it followed you. If you tried to run into it and
through it, the machine guns would cut you down as
you came out the other side. Then somebody said if
you pissed on a sock and held it over your face, you
could stand there and wait for it to go by.
PEGGY: You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to.
DUNCAN: That's how they opened up a bloody great gap on our
left. Mustard gas. Supposed to be some crack
regiment there, but they couldn't handle it. They
took off. And we were stuck there. Us! The bloody
replacements. Cooks, orderlies, drivers—and we
were supposed to be the bloody replacements. No
rifles of course. Didn't have enough rifles for everybody. So we killed people with shovels and pick
handles—hoping to God someone would die so we
could get our hands on a rifle.
PEGGY: Duncan?
DUNCAN: That's what it's like.  Piece of farmland, good soil,
drained, irrigated, old buildings, churches. .. and a
valley, and a ridge. You put one army in the valley
and another on the ridge. Then you leave them there
for three years trying to kill each other. They pump
shells into the valley until all the canal banks break,
and it rains, and you've got nothing but shellholes
and water and mud and there's not a tree or a building left standing. Looks like nothing you've ever seen
before. Then the guns start up again, middle of the
night. The whole place is lit up with fairy lights, and
they tell you not to move. Don't move. They can't see
you if you don't move. Do you know how hard it is
not to move with all that damned metal creeping
closer to you all the time? Don't move. So you stand
there, soaking wet, covered in mud. Then the lights
burn out and you dive into a shellhole you've picked
out for yourself. Full of water of course, but you
58 don't sink right down. You can feel something down
there that you can brace your feet against. You know
what it is, but it doesn't matter anymore. He's dead,
and you're not. Dawn comes up and you see a head
on the skyline. You pull the trigger and it disappears.
He's dead, and you're not. And that goes on for day
after day, night after night, month after month, year
after year. It's the biggest damned game anybody
ever invented. In the end, there's nobody left.
Hundreds of thousands of bodies covered in water
and mud, and they're dead, and you're not.
The strange thing of it is... and I've never understood this. Come through something like that
and, when you look back, it seems like the best
damned thing that ever happened to you.
Do you want me to tell Doug that?
(fightsfade in Camerons.)
ELIZABETH: Nineteen thirty-nine. It was a beautiful summer...
good harvest... plenty of work to be done . .. but
there was no money. And, historically, when the
banks run out of paper, you beat your ploughshares
back into swords. I don't know whether that is
conscious political philosophy, or tragic lack of
imagination.
But it was not, then, the greatest concern of a
seventeen-year-old girl. She was still at that state of
innocence where you know that, if you do it, it makes
you pregnant. There were, however, contraceptives.
Furtively spoken of rubber things that boys stole
from their father's dresser drawers... and kept in
their wallets until they disintegrated. Doug said he
would try to get one. I said nothing. I had heard how
"it" was done, of course. I experienced the initial disgust, but then this was replaced by the feeling that it
all sounded very "unlikely." I have obviously always
had an academic mind. But I said nothing. Why was
that? I don't think it was love or passion. I think it's
just that there comes a time in your young life when
your misgivings are replaced by an overwhelming
curiosity. I was finding so many new things with
Doug... and with him, they seemed right. Maybe
59 that's what love is.
(Lights up in barn. DOUG enters with newspaper. LIZ
ZIE follows.)
DOUG:
It says you have to be between eighteen and forty-
one,   physically   fit,   not   more   than   three   depen
dants—and that's all. Have to pass a medical...
LIZZIE:
You're not serious, are you Doug?
DOUG:
For a dollar thirty a day? Are you kidding? That's ten
bucks a week—forty a month.
LIZZIE:
Doug?
DOUG:
Get all your clothes and food paid for.
LIZZIE:
But Doug, you don't have to go.
DOUG:
Everybody else is. Lizzie, you don't understand. This
is a great chance. Maybe I could join the Air Force
and learn to fly. Jeez. I can hide up in the clouds until
the war is over. They'd never find me up there.
(A thunderstorm begins.)
LIZZIE:
Don't joke about it Doug.
DOUG:
Hey, listen to that. You'd better be going back. I'll see
if I can get the truck.
LIZZIE:
Doug, don't volunteer. Please?
DOUG:
Why not?
LIZZIE:
You'd have to go away. I wouldn't see you.
DOUG:
Sure you would. Weekends. You get leave.
(Thunder.)
DOUG:
That storm is really coming up. I'll ask my old man if
I can have the truck. (Leaving.)
LIZZIE:
No, don't Doug. Stay here and talk. I want to get this
settled.
DOUG:
It's getting late, you know. Your folks are going to
start wondering.
LIZZIE:
I don't care, Doug. This is important.
DOUG:
We can talk in the truck, Lizzie. (Exits.)
(LIZZIE sits  on  straw,   lights  in  barn  remain  up.
Through the following, lights up on the Tingleys and the
Camerons in their areas.)
ELIZABETH:
It was the duty of all able-bodied young men to step
forward. I suppose I believed that—but if Doug had
to go away? School would start next Tuesday. Surely
he wouldn't go to war and miss school? What would
my   father   say?   And   where   would   I   take   his
homework?
I thought about getting engaged, married even, but I
i	
60 knew what my mother would have to say about that.
All the same, I had to do something.
MOLLY: Has Lizzie come in yet?
HERBERT: Haven't seen her.
DUNCAN: What makes you think they'd take you? You're not
eighteen.
DOUG: I am soon. They took Oggie.
LIZZIE: Doug?
PEGGY: There's not going to be a war, you'll see.
DOUG: So can I go?
DUNCAN: Of course you can't go. Who's going to help me with
the damned farm!
LIZZIE: Doug?
HERBERT:        The stock market is recovering.
MOLLY: Nothing like a nice war for business to pick up.
DOUG: Dad. I'm going to go.
PEGGY: Don't argue with your father, dear. You know how it
upsets me.
LIZZIE: Doug, they've got Goodbye Mr. Chips at the Capitol.
Will you take me?
DUNCAN: Look. I was in the war. The war to end all wars. You
don't know what the hell you are talking about, so just
stay the hell out of it.
DOUG: How can I stay out of it? Everybody else is going.
DUNCAN: Well I'm not and that's for damned sure.
LIZZIE: Doug, did you get it?
DOUG: What?
LIZZIE: You know. The thing.
DOUG: No. I didn't.
MOLLY: If you ask me, there's nothing to pick between them.
Hitler or the bloody English.
HERBERT:        Now, now, Molly.
LIZZIE: Doug please don't go.
DUNCAN: So I lived through it and came back, eh? To what?
answer me that. Came back to what?
LIZZIE: I love you Doug.
DOUG: I'm going, Dad.
DUNCAN: (Roars.) You're not going any damned where and let's
get that straight right here and now.
PEGGY: I do wish you wouldn't argue with your father, dear.
LIZZIE: You mustn't go, Doug.
MOLLY: Where is that girl?
LIZZIE: Please?
ELIZABETH:    Help her somebody—help her!
61 LIZZIE: I love you, Doug.
DOUG: I know you do, Lizzie.
LIZZIE: I don't want you to go. You can do it to me if you
want to.
DOUG: I don't care what anybody says. I have to go. (Exits.)
LIZZIE: (Screams.) I'm going to have a baby.
(All the parents turn to stare down at her.)
LIZZIE: I think I am going to have a baby.
(The parents remain motionless. LIZZIE backs from
their gaze, and turns to run from the barn, but
ELIZABETH has moved in to take her in her arms. She
strokes her hair as LIZZIE sobs. Parents to silhouette,
special on LIZZIE and ELIZABETH.)
ELIZABETH:    (Softly.) You silly girl. What did you do that for?
Mmm? Why did you do that?
(The special fades on ELIZABETH and LIZZIE, and
we hear the cry of a distant loon. Black.)
62 Charles Foran
Winter Colours
For years Pierre Brosseau sat at the back door of his house listening to
his wife work her garden. Turning over the thawing earth in May,
planting in June, Ginette Brosseau would water and watch through
the summer months until flowers would begin to bloom—roses,
orchids, tulips—with a vegetable patch along the fence. Pierre would
hear the sound of digging, soil being smoothed and patted, spades
hitting rocks and roots. He could never understand how Ginette
managed it. With all the chemicals in the air around Sudbury,
chemicals choked from the smokestacks of Copper Cliff, it was
astonishing that anything grew at all. Sulphur alone from the mines
should had been enough to render the city barren. Or else it made
sense that plants would turn out deformed—grotesquely shaped
flowers and bloated vegetables. If Ginette hadn't forced him to smell
the orchids each year as she brought them into the house, or help wash
the green peppers and tomatoes, he would simply not have believed.
Her gardens were a miracle; Pierre was certain of it. They were not,
however, miraculous enough to make him want to be wheeled through
the yard. Ginette always maintained that he should let himself be
placed in the middle of the flower bed, just once, placed amidst
wooden stakes and vines, and allow the smells to overwhelm him—feel
the life surging up from underneath. Pierre thought that was a
ridiculous idea. He was content, he insisted, to just sit and chat with
her, a breeze in his face and scents in the air. In his mind his wife, her
features half-forgotten, was an outline over the dark earth. The garden itself was all black; Pierre couldn't even begin to imagine what it
looked like.
Within a month of the operation his eyes have improved enough to
permit an hour of television per day. One Friday evening he sits with
Ginette watching a program. Pierre's attention to the screen is erratic;
often he stares down at the floor for minutes at a time, rocks back and
forth, even closes his eyes and simply listens. She is knitting. Their
living room is long and narrow, its size having been reduced by half
63 years before to create a main-floor bedroom. A curtained window
takes up the entire front wall. On the other walls are prints of
landscape paintings and two pencil sketches of cats. A well-worn couch
lines one side of the room, with a coffee table before it and armchairs
in the corners. The television is by the door.
"Aren't you enjoying the movie?" Ginette asks him.
"It's okay, I guess."
"I could change channels?"
"It doesn't really matter."
She puts down her knitting needles.
"It must be wonderful to be seeing all these things again after so
long," she offers. "So fresh and exciting."
Pierre shrugs.
"They are as I remember them."
"Remember them?"
"From before, Ginette—before the accident."
"Really Pierre? I can no longer remember very much of our life
before that."
"Trust me: it is just as it was."
"But all the beautiful colours?"
"What colours?"
"On the screen," she says. "Having a colour TV makes such a difference."
Pierre wheels himself to the television.
"The colours," he begins, "hurt my eyes."
Lise Brosseau wore black pants, red blouses and purple scarves, tall
leather boots with silver nailheads tacked around the ankles. The
tightness of her clothing exaggerated the extra weight on her body,
weight added since the last divorce two years ago. Before that divorce
her name had been Lise Dionne, and before that Lise Cloutier. Now
she was back to being Brosseau again. Not having any children made
the decision to readopt the family name a lot easier. Not having any
children had also made the marriages more difficult—if not impossible—to manage. Failing to stay married to miners had been, she
thought, understandable. Failing to become a mother, however,
remained a mystery; inexplicable, vaguely unforgivable. Now Lise had
stopped thinking about it and was spending her days as a clerk in a
clothing store and her nights in bars in parts of Sudbury her mother
had never even visited, and her father would not have admitted visiting. The bars were dark rooms with plain tables and chairs, open
spaces for dancing and fighting, country music blaring from speakers.
On weekends the rooms were noisy, acrid-smelling, stifling hot from
cigarette smoke and body heat. On weeknights, though, they were often quiet and lonely.
64 The operation came as a shock. The thought of her father actually
seeing her for the first time, the first time ever, left Lise weak with
fright. Unplugging the phone, staying out each evening, she managed
for three days to avoid going to the hospital. Finally her mother
tracked her down at the shop. In a voice quavering with anger and exhaustion Ginette demanded that Lise accompany her that very instant.
She was not even allowed to change her clothes.
"But he'll see me looking like this?" she said.
"Why shouldn't he?" Ginette asked. "It's how you look, isn't it?"
"You and I know that, mere, but he does not. He thinks I look . . .
different."
"Then he'll learn otherwise."
"Pere will not like it."
"What is there for him not to like, Lise? You are his daughter ..."
"My voice is his daughter," Lise said, "My voice and nothing more.
My face and body—how I look and act—belong to someone else."
"Who?"
Her daughter laughed nervously.
"Not the Lise he imagines, anyway."
"Don't worry," Ginette advised.   .
At the hospital Lise slipped into a small room all soft blue and white.
Sunlight pouring through the window covered the foot of the bed, the
chairs, the silver and grey machines which surrounded her father. He
sat upright with bandages under his eyes. The eyes were swollen and
red and looking as if he'd been crying for days. After staring at his
daughter for thirty seconds—Lise matched each one with a beat of her
heart—Pierre decided that he couldn't see her clearly. All he could
make out, he claimed, was someone with pale skin, black hair, and perhaps long gold earrings. Could he see nothing more? Ginette asked.
Nothing of the Brosseau nose and cheekbones? No, nothing more.
Besides, his eyes were tired and needed to rest. Lise was suspicious;
she'd felt his furious stare upon her not two minutes before. Still, even
with having forgotten to eat a peppermint for her breath, she appeared to have escaped unharmed. As soon as she'd left the room,
promising to return again the next day, Pierre exploded.
"Our daughter is a middle-aged whore," he said.
"Pierre!"
"I bet she sleeps with men from the mine."
"Please don't say that about Lise."
"Will you just look at her for a minute, Ginette? Really look at her?
You know the type as well as I do. Twice divorced, promenading
around in tight clothes and drinking beer in the Coronet Hotel or the
Star Inn. She is the kind that ends up in a different bed each night."
"You shouldn't talk like that."
"Isn't it the truth?"
65 "Of course not."
"How do you know?"
"How do I know? She is Lise, Pierre. She is my daughter. She is our
daughter."
"She cannot even keep a husband."
"She married mean and drunken miners—men who cared more for
their hockey and their alcohol than they did for her. Who else is there
for her to meet in this town? Who else? And still you blame her?"
"You married a miner?"
"I know. But—"
"Are we all rotten drunkards?"
"Pierre, that's not—"
"Or is the problem women like Lise Dionne or Cloutier or whatever
name we should call her?"
He was trembling.
"You shouldn't get worked up," Ginette said, quickly wiping her
eyes. "The doctor says you need to stay calm."
"How can I stay calm when my daughter has turned out like that?"
"Your daughter is a thirty-five-year-old woman."
"And she stank of liquor, Ginette. It's not only the men around here
who do all the drinking."
"All right, Pierre."
"What a sight to see," he muttered. "What a sight to be greeted with
after so many years of wondering."
Pierre begins adjusting the controls on the television.
"I can't look at this box for more than ten minutes without needing
to switch the colour off," he says. "They pound, pound away, making
me dizzy and giving me a headache."
"I didn't know," Ginette says.
"All the brightness ..." Pierre continues. "All the brightness is nothing but a lie."
"A lie, Pierre?"
"Yes, a lie. Look at this screen for a minute. When I first saw it four
weeks ago I discovered it was a grey or greyish-white colour. Fine, I
said; that is the truth of things. For thirty-six years I learnt that truth.
Suddenly you come in and push this button here. Click—the screen is
all yellow and red and blue? Click—everything is purple and orange?
You think you can just do that?"
"I don't understand ..."
"You can imagine the world to be any colour you want, Ginette, like
a child imagining he is a hockey star or a blind man imagining he has
sight. But it doesn't make it true. It doesn't make things turn out any
more how you'd like them to. Shouldn't I of all people know that by
now?"
66 "Yes you should," she says weakly.
"Exactly. And I do—I do know it."
On the morning of the operation Ginette spent an hour deciding
which clothes to pack into her husband's suitcase. In the closet beside
the kitchen were the shirts and pants he'd been wearing for thirty-six
years, the clothes chosen, washed and mended by his wife. Ginette had
probably knit Pierre two dozen sweaters over that time. From the age
of nine she'd been knitting, first for herself and her sisters, then for
her infirmed mother, and finally for her husband and daughter.
Pierre's sweaters were all combinations of green, blue and yellow. In
fact most of his clothes were those colours. Since the accident he'd
worn white shirts or grey pants far less often than he imagined. The
decision had been Ginette's; to lie to his face, to fold up and store in
boxes his old outfits. Now, ready to drive him to the hospital, she was
faced with an even more difficult decision. Upstairs from the kitchen
was the bedroom where Pierre and Ginette had spent their
honeymoon year. In a closet beside the double bed were the remnants
of his old life. Hockey skates, sticks, baseball gloves and mitts, hard
hats and miner's boots; all his gear was in storage there. Pierre had
never wanted any of it thrown away. He had also never once asked to
be carried up to the room. There were as well two boxes of clothing in
the closet. Every year Ginette washed and ironed the dull pants, faded
shirts, then carefully folded them back into boxes. Why she did this
was never very clear to her; it was an act of superstition, she supposed,
a compulsion she gave into once each winter. Until that morning it
hadn't really mattered. After the operation, though, things would be
different. Not too different, of course; but enough to be worrisome.
And, remarkably, he could still fit into those clothes. In all that time
her husband had not gained a single pound—had not changed one bit.
If Ginette wanted, she could slip the old collection of clothes into the
suitcase and dress Pierre up exactly as he'd dressed in 1949. It seemed
ridiculous. It was ridiculous. Yet she could actually do it.
Pierre was calling from the hallway. Her hands trembling, Ginette
snapped the suitcase shut. Before a mirror she touched up her grey
hair and tried smoothing the skin around her eyes. The lines were
permanent; make-up no longer helped. In the mirror was a face worn
with fatigue and neglect. It was, Ginette decided, old and unattractive.
Certainly it was not a face to be introduced to again after so many
years. He would be disappointed. He would feel, well, let down. More
than anything else, Ginette did not want Pierre to feel that. Maybe
they weren't ready? Maybe it really wasn't worth it? Maybe?.. . His
angry voice awoke her. They were going to be late, he called; he was
going to miss his own operation! Blessing herself before the crucifix,
switching off the light, Ginette hurried out to meet him.
67 First the images on the screen are rendered black and white. Then
they are distorted little by little into shapeless streaks of colour. Pierre,
his hand on the controls, stares into the television.
"Don't do that, Pierre!" Ginette says. "Didn't you just tell me that the
brightness was hurting your eyes?"
"Look at this mess," he answers. "You can't make out a thing. It's all
a blur—a total blur. Isn't that what I've been saying the whole time?"
"Please turn to me."
"Why?"
"You'll damage your eyes."
He wheels around.
"Should I switch it off?" she asks.
"You like watching TV, don't you?"
"In the evenings, yes. I find it relaxing."
"What good is there?"
"There are all kinds of good programs, Pierre. You know
that—you've been listening to them for years."
"And I should have kept on listening to them."
"Why?"
"Because they aren't what I was expecting to see."
"What were you hoping for?"
"Not this, at any rate."
"I don't think it's so bad. The show on now can be quite funny sometimes."
"It may be funny, Ginette. It may even be hilarious. But it just isn't
what I wanted to see."
The Toronto Maple Leafs had no greater supporter than Pierre Brosseau. Since 1949 he'd listened to all their games, home and away, following the team through a half-dozen coaches and three generations
of players. Among his friends he'd long been considered a turncoat
for his allegiance. To be a French Canadian and live in Sudbury, to
have grown up playing ice hockey all winter, and still not cheer for the
Montreal Canadiens— les Habitants —-was for the men almost a crime.
Pierre's rationale was, however, convincing. The Maple Leafs had
something going for them which the Canadiens never would
have—Foster Hewitt. With Foster Hewitt announcing their games who
could help but become a fan? With his voice, so full of authority and
style, so capable of making each play sound exciting; with that behind
the Leafs the Canadiens didn't stand a chance, did they? His friends
agreed with him completely. Then they raised glasses of draft beer,
nodded to each other, shook their heads sadly. Moments of silence
would follow. Well, he would repeat, did they stand a chance? The
men all understood how Pierre had to rely on the words— English
words, no less—of some announcer to bring the Toronto games to life.
68 Had the poor soul been able to actually see Rocket Richard or Jean
Beliveau or Guy Lafleur on the television for just a few minutes he
would have renounced forever his support of the Leafs. His mistake
was understandable. No one held it against him.
Now on Wednesday and Saturday nights Pierre sat before the television watching his team in action.
"This is torture," he would tell Ginette.
"What is, Pierre?"
"Watching these morons play hockey. Look at how they make bad
passes and miss open nets. It's miserable."
"The Leafs haven't had a good team in many years now, have they?"
"I know that. But I never imagined they could be that bad, Ginette. I
couldn't ever have imagined it. This isn't professional hockey; it's
sloppy amateurish play."
"At least you can see them skate," she would offer. "I can remember
watching you play for the mine. It didn't matter to me one bit if you
never touched the puck. Just to watch you glide up and down the ice in
your red uniform . . . You were a very fine skater, Pierre."
"And I could score goals. First in the league, you know, the year
before the accident. Twenty-six goals in twenty-five games—one per
match, like the Rocket."
"The things you remember!"
"Watching these idiots makes you want to remember the old days."
A goal by the opposing team or a poor play by Toronto would enrage him.
"I can't believe this," he would say. "Can you believe a player like
that even being allowed in Maple Leaf Gardens? The same goes for
the rest of them too."
"Isn't Borje Salming a good defenceman?"
"He is always hurt. Too fragile for the big leagues."
"And doesn't Darryl Sittler score lots of goals?"
"Sittler is old and complacent."
"What about Lanny Macdonald?"
"He is long gone, Ginette. They have some boy in his position now."
Ginette would fall silent.
"Foster Hewitt was the biggest liar in the world," Pierre would eventually say.
"Should I turn to something else?"
"For all those years I really imagined they could play hockey as well
as the Montreal Canadiens."
"Pierre, don't..."
"And it was just in my head. He put it in my head—all those lies. I
should have known better."
"They were good back then," Ginette would try.
"I can't believe I let myself be fooled like that."
69 "You weren't being fooled, Pierre. Toronto had some excellent
teams in the 1960s. I can remember how good they were. Only not in
recent years, that's all."
But Pierre would not listen. Nor would he allow the channel to be
changed. Until the final buzzer, the announcement of the game's three
stars, he sat comparing the figures in the screen—a Toronto Maple
Leaf team of shadows—with the one he had lived with in his mind.
"What exactly were you expecting to see, Pierre?"
"I was thinking I would find ... well, things different."
"Things different?
"I mean different things."
"You were hoping you'd find different things?"
"Yes . . . You know what I mean, don't you?"
"I suppose."
"It really isn't worth explaining."
There is a silence.
"On channel nine there's a movie?" Ginette says.
"I don't want to see a movie."
"It's a brand new film. According to the guide it was only made this
year."
"Ginette—that's not what I'm talking about!"
She throws up her arms.
"What then?"
Her husband sits with his back to the television. The absence of light
in the room has left his face in shadow. Yet his wheelchair appears surrounded by flashes of red and purple from the screen. They seem to
reach out to consume him, like flames in search of additional fuel.
Ginette's voice softens.
"What then, Pierre? ... What?"
He does not answer.
Unlike other men, Pierre Brosseau had been planning his life from the
start. Each morning as he climbed aboard the hoist with the rest of the
crew, hard hat on head and gloves covering his hands, preparing for
eight more hours of darkness and damp, he was mentally looking forward to the changes which would take place. Even if professional
hockey were ruled out, and a career in the mines settled on, he was
confident of his chances. They could start him out at the bottom, five
thousand feet below the surface in caves of sweating black walls and
clotted air, start him out behind a mucking machine or even a jack-
hammer, but there was no way they could keep him there. By twenty-
five he'd be a driller, working the cooler, better-lit levels nearer trie
top, the air breathable if not exactly fresh. Then by the age of thirty
—thirty-five at the latest—he'd be on the surface supervising the oper-
70 ation. Under the tall northern skies Pierre would issue orders by telephone, riding down into the earth only to inspect, to deal with problems other men couldn't solve. He often explained his thinking to
Ginette; you could get what you wanted only if you knew exactly what
that was. You simply had to imagine it. You had to conceive of how the
future would turn out, how people might act—even how they might
think. You had to be striving all the time to see what hadn't yet happened, but could happen, and could happen to you if you were open to
it. You had to be ready for anything. At the age of twenty-two Pierre
had felt ready for anything. That was why, and not the extra money,
he'd accepted the job of powder monkey before being really comfortable around explosives. That was why he'd gone ahead by himself and
planted a charge one January morning. His supervisor was returning
from a coffee break. He was no more than ten yards away —fifteen at
most—when an explosion shook the ground beneath him.
"I'd better just switch it off," he says quietly, turning to the television.
"Please don't let yourself get this way, Pierre. It does you no good."
"I'm not any 'way', Ginette. It's just that my eyes are full of water."
"Are they painful?"
"Just tired."
She nods.
"I'm tired," he adds.
"I'm sorry."
"Sorry? Sorry for what?"
"I don't know ... I just am."
"Don't be."
"Sometimes I can't help it."
"Don't be," he repeats. "Please don't be ... "
In November Lise made a rare visit to her parent's house. Wearing a
dark blue dress, black coat and shoes, she sat perfectly still at the
kitchen table while Pierre complained about the new Maple Leaf team.
Ginette set out plates and cups for three.
"I think our daughter has something to tell us," she finally said.
"She isn't getting married and then divorced again, is she?" he
asked. "You're not engaged to another miner, are you Lise?"
"No, pere. I've given up on them."
"More likely it's the other way around."
"Pierre, Lise has important news. Won't you let her speak?"
"I'm listening."
"It's okay, mere," Lise said, her eyes fixed on the table. "I'm
ready."
No one spoke for a minute,
"Well?... "Pierre said.
71 "Are you sure, Lise?"
"Let me then."
Ginette turned to her husband.
"Our daughter is going—"
"I'm pregnant," Lise said quickly.
"She's going to have a baby, Pierre."
"A baby?"
"We're going to be grandparents!"
First Pierre glared at his wife. Then he tried staring at his daughter.
Lise, however, refused to look at him.
"But you have no husband?" he said.
"I don't think I want one either."
"Two goddamn husbands and nothing. But now that you're unmarried again you go and get pregnant?"
"It wasn't intentional."
"What, were you forced?"
"She tried so hard for years there," Ginette said. "Don't you remember all the trouble we had?"
Pierre blushed a deep red.
"Who's the father?" he asked.
"I don't think that's any of our business."
"Of course it's our business. She's our daughter: the baby will be our
grandchild. Of course we have a right to know—"
"I'm not sure, pere."
"Not sure of what?"
"Pierre, please ..."
"Not sure who the father is."
Pierre spoke slowly.
"Have you been fucking around Sudbury like a whore?"
Ginette stood and positioned herself behind Lise's chair.
"It's best that we leave him right now. He had no right to say that."
"I wasn't speaking to you, Ginette. I was speaking to my thirty-five-
year-old daughter—"
"That doesn't matter."
"Please don't fight over me," Lise said.
"He had no right..."
"Didn't I? Didn't I, Ginette? Thirty-six years of—"
"I'm tired of hearing that, Pierre."
Shock registered on his face.
"I haven't been 'fucking' around Sudbury, pere," Lise began. "I've
been sitting in bars every night waiting, hoping maybe to meet someone new. I've—"
"Don't explain yourself to him," Ginette interrupted.
"It doesn't matter now."
"Yes it does."
72 "Let her speak, Ginette."
"I won't. I won't when I know you aren't even listening. You can't
treat her like that, Pierre. She's a living person."
"That's true," Pierre agreed. "It's me that's the dead one."
Neither of the women responded.
"Or at least for thirty-six years I was dead. Maybe I breathed, talked,
ate: but really I was long departed. There was just a short delay in arranging the funeral, you see, and so I had to wait around in this chair."
Ginette sighed.
"Sorry to bore you, Ginette. I won't much longer."
"Enough, Pierre. Enough."
"Then when I heard about the operation I thought, 'At last, Pierre,
you will be alive again, as alive as when you were courting Ginette or
playing hockey for the mine.' Maybe it was foolish; maybe I was
dreaming. But it was what I believed. And so now to find my
daughter, who I knew only as a bulge in her mother's belly, to find her
all a mess—"
"Stop!"
The tone of Ginette's voice silenced him.
"I am a mess," Lise agreed.
"No you are not."
"A middle-aged one too. They are the worst."
"There you are wrong," Pierre said. "An old fuck-up like myself is
far worse. For us there is no hope."
He waited before continuing.
"Far worse. Less likeable, less worth saving..."
In the long silence which followed Pierre closed his eyes. He sat listening to the sounds in the room; the hum of the refrigerator, the drip
of water from the sink tap. He also heard Ginette playing with Lise's
hair, Lise running her fingernails over her skin—even the smooth
sound of their breathing.
"You've been to a doctor?" he finally asked.
Lise nodded. Then, noticing her father, she answered.
"And the child will be healthy?"
"Dr. Gautier said that Lise was in ideal condition for late motherhood."
"She'd better quit the cigarettes."
"I know," Lise said.
"And the beer."
I know, pere. Mother and I were talking about me staying... about
where I should stay until the baby is born."
"In the bedroom beside the kitchen here, of course."
"But that is where you sleep?"
"Your mother and I are going back to our old room upstairs, aren't
we, Ginette?"
73 "Pierre?"
"I think it's the only fair thing to do."
Ginette was unable to hide the confusion on her face. But her husband's eyes had remained closed.
"If you say so," she managed.
The women exchanged glances.
"It is too much trouble," Lise said. "I am too much trouble."
"A pregnant woman can't be walking up and down stairs all the time
to the washroom. An old man can walk them—needs the exercise, in
fact."
"It's kind of you to offer."
"What kindness?" Pierre said. "It just makes sense, Lise. Anyway, it's
time we started using more of this house."
"I don't know..."
"It's decided. There's nothing more to say. Tonight I'll begin
moving my clothes back upstairs."
Ginette went over to him.
"We'll talk more about this later on," she whispered.
He shrugged.
"Thank you, pere."
"You are my daughter... it is the least I could do."
Both women coughed suddenly, allowing them to cover their faces
with tissue. Pierre looked up at Lise.
"So you'll be a mother in a few months," he said.
"And you a grandfather."
"And Ginette will finally have her grandchild."
"I've been praying for years," Ginette admitted.
"I hope it's a girl," Pierre said.
"A girl? I was sure you'd want only a boy."
"Either will do fine," he decided. "So long as the child is healthy and
can be active."
Over dinner that evening they settled on Lise giving birth to a six
pound girl with blue eyes and curly blonde hair. They even chose a
name: Maria, after her grandmother.
Pierre flicks off the television. Immediately the colours recede and the
tube darkens. A faint glow remains, slivers of electricity crackling
along the surface. Without thinking, in a gesture learnt from Ginette
twenty years before, he places both hands on the screen. The sensation
of fading warmth is familiar, comforting; his eyes are shut tight until
the tube is cold. Withdrawing the hands he discovers an outline in the
glass. Staring into the grey mirror is a dim figure hunched over yet
stiff. The face is bony, narrow, lined with creases and fatigue marks.
For a moment Pierre is transfixed by this image. His first instinct it to
switch on the television again to drown the reflection. Instead he closes
his eyes and wheels himself into the kitchen.
74 New Year's Day was bitter cold. A yellow sun stood frozen in a corner
of the sky, smokestacks west of the city rising in columns to meet it.
Brick chimneys from houses along the streets sent tufts of smoke up
into the air, higher, higher, until they dissipated into the whiteness.
The city was quiet. As she moved along the sidewalk Ginette Brosseau
could hear the snow squeaking under her feet. Her father's coat, just
large enough to cover her seven-month pregnancy, was six inches too
long in the arms. This made it impossible for her to hold hands with
her husband. Instead the couple linked arms, as they did walking to
church on Sundays. Pierre Brosseau was keeping firm hold of his wife
with one arm while carrying his hockey equipment in the other. The
leading scorer of INCO Mine's 'A' team was a tall man of twenty-two,
long faced, handsome, with curly brown hair beneath a black toque.
No one in Sudbury skated as quickly as he did; no one had as strong a
wrist shot as the young Brosseau. At least two hundred people, besides
wives and family, would venture out to the rink on New Year's Day to
watch an exhibition match between two mining teams. It would not be
the NHL, the Maple Leafs or the Canadiens, but it would be local
men—Sudbury or Capreol men—who could be seen on the streets afterwards, in the bars, and not just listened to on the radio or stared at
in newspaper photos. And none of the men would be more admired
than Pierre Brosseau.
"I'll score a goal for you today, Ginette," Pierre was saying. "Plus one
for the boy, plus a third one for myself."
"You mean our child, don't you Pierre? It could easily turn out to be
a girl."
"Our first born will be a boy. You can be certain of that."
"Can I?"
"Yes. Just as you can be certain we'll win today's game. I will make
sure of both."
Ginette smiled at his boasting. Her husband also laughed at his own
arrogance, showing white teeth in a warm smile.
"You shouldn't take the game so seriously," she teased. "It's only an
exhibition match against your own mine, isn't it?"
"Against the 'B' team, Ginette. Half those men would kill for a
position on the top squad. With their wives and kids there today they'll
be playing for their lives. We will need to be equally as fierce."
"You make it all sound so important!"
"If you were on that ice, skating with those players, you would understand."
"I understand one thing, Pierre—men with their heads full of themselves."
He laughed again.
"You're green with envy."
That reminded Ginette.
"I've knit you a pair of mittens," she said, digging into a jacket
75 pocket. "I finished them last night."
"But I bought these gloves two weeks ago. What do I need with mittens?"
"Store bought gloves can't keep you as warm as real ones. Your
hands will go numb if you wear those for too long."
"Everyone's buying them now, Ginette. No one knits anymore."
She held out the mittens.
"And they're red," he complained. "You know I can't stand red
gloves."
"Why?"
"Because... well because gloves are coloured brown or black, like
the snow is white and the sky is blue. That's just how it is."
Ginette was unconvinced.
"You don't understand, that's all," he decided.
"I guess not."
Pierre thanked his wife for the gift. Then, without slowing his pace,
he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. The mittens were quickly
stuffed into his pockets, where they would remain, unworn, if he had
his way.
"Make sure you stand behind their net today," he offered at the
entrance to the rink. "That way you'll have a good view of the action."
"I think I like it better in the middle."
"The middle? Why the middle?"
"From there it's much easier to see the players. Sometimes, when
both teams are skating well, it's as if you're all following a pattern
planned out ahead of time. The game is even more beautiful to watch
then."
"Well just remember to keep an eye on your husband," Pierre said.
"For you and our boy I'll outplay everyone else on the ice."
Ginette did keep her eyes on him as he strolled off to the change
rooms. Her Pierre walked with long easy strides and greeted the other
men, many his superiors, with handshakes and pats on the back. Her
Pierre had confidence, charm, a head full of half-formed hopes and
dreams. Despite his failings, Ginette Brosseau couldn't imagine wanting to share her life with anyone else.
76 Tony Cosier
A Country That I Have Not
Known
This is a country that I have not known.
Mountains retreat and give the valley air,
Become hills only, shreds of blue.    Fishbone
Bleached on blue rock takes me to my own bare
Rigging, swims me in my spirit upward
Past the smokehouse, past the sagging weir.
A trapper seems to know the place.   The beard,
The tooth, the grease of him say this, the sneer.
He snaps a trap to show me how it works.
But I am well upstream by now, beyond
Whatever he can do.    A grizzly jerks
A head to take the sun, takes air beyond
The river, off hind legs reared the hills.
77 Karen Romell
Incubus
There's a moon in me
some old
governance
of chaos and
suspicion
locking me into
lamplight and the comfort
of two sets of keys
while my teeth chatter
at 5 p.m. in November, or knives
come up through the mattress
and dimple my skin
and the man
walking 10 steps behind me
and slightly to the left
thinks he's Zeus
he has pocketed his shower
of gold and bright eyes
and something rides
my spine
my hair is a-snake
with betrayals
the treachery of all those
swans, hiding carelessly behind
trees
with their bead-eyes
their guns and their
divinity.
78 NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
BERT ALMON teaches English at the University of Alberta. His fifth
collection of poems, Deep North, was published in 1984 by Thistledown
Press.
GEORGE AMABILE has published several collections of poetry,
among them Presence of Fire (M&S). The former editor and founder of
Northern Light, he teaches in the English Department at the University
of Manitoba.
E.D. BLODGETT'S poem, "Aubade for Rivers" is part of a series of
meditations on music and war entitled Musical Offering to be published
by Coach House Press in 1986. His last book was Arche/Elegies
(Longspoon, 1985).
DENNIS COOLEY teaches at St. John's College in Winnipeg. A co-
founder of Turnstone Press, Cooley has written Fielding (Thistledown,
1983) and Bloody Jack (Turnstone, 1985).
TONY COSIER teaches at Confederation High School in Ottawa. His
poetry has appeared in numerous North American literary magazines
and he has two books forthcoming: The Massacre of the Innocents
(Portage Press) and Ensemble (Moonstone Press), a collection of short
stories.
LORNA CROZIER'S poetry has been included in many magazines and anthologies, including The New Canadian Poets (M&S, 1985).
Her sixth anthology of poetry, The Garden Going on Without Us, was
brought out by M&S last fall. This year she is living in Montreal and
working on her writing as a result of a Canada Council Arts Grant.
CHARLES FORAN is a Canadian writer currently working on a novel
in Amenia, New York. This year, Rubicon is publishing a special feature on Foran's fiction.
WARREN GRAVES is an Edmonton-based playwright currently
working at the Bastion Theatre in Victoria.
GERALD HILL published his first book of poems, Heartwood
(Thistledown) last year. He lives in Edmonton.
GARY H YLAND lives in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. He was one of the
poets included in Dennis Lee's The New Canadian Poets anthology
(M&S, 1985). He also founded the publishing company Coteau Books.
BRIGITTE KEMPER is a commercial artist currently living in Vancouver.
79 DON KERR has written two books of poetry, A New Improved Sky, and
Going Places, and has recently had his first play, The Great War,
produced at the 25th Street Theatre in Saskatoon.
PATRICK LANE is currently Writer-in-Residence at Concordia University in Montreal. His most recent book is A Linen Crow, A Caftan
Magpie (Thistledown).
KEN RIVARD is the author of Kiss Me Down to Size (Thistledown,
1983) and Losing His Thirst (Pierian Press, 1985). He is a member of
the League of Canadian poets, and lives in Calgary.
KAREN ROMELL'S poems have appeared in event, CVII, Malahat
Review and Women and Words Anthology. She lives in Vancouver.
CAROL SHIELDS is the author of four novels, the most recent of
which is A Fairly Conventional Woman (Macmillan, 1982). In 1985,
General Publishing brought out Various Miracles, a collection of her
short stories. She lives in Winnipeg.
80  

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