Thursday, July 1, 2010


She said, picture yourself in a safe place
And instantly I saw myself on a wooden stool
Painted forest green – a stool with rungs
I am hunched over with my head pulled
Down between my shoulders and look as if
I am afraid someone might hit me but when
She asks me if I feel safe and I say not quite

She asks me what I need to do to make
The space safe and I know right away and fashion
A strong, clear dome that fits right over the whole
Affair – me, the stool – leaving enough room
to breathe
But close enough to make me feel, well ... safe

She asks me to describe my safe place
And more particularly, me in it -
I, too sick to decline, even though
I feel embarrassed I think, begin to give
Her exacting details – especially as she leads me
When I falter with prompts, such as
What are you doing with your hands?
(Keeping them cupped up near my face
As if to hide it at a moment’s notice)

Why would you need to hide your face?
Describe it to me, she sounds so interested
Maybe she is – it’s always hard to tell with
Therapists – anyhow, as I say, I am pretty sick
So feel I have no choice and tell her how I look
(As if I have been crying for a week straight and my
Whole face is swollen and red, not just my eyes
Which are mere slits – I know how truly ugly
I am and I hate myself more than ever)

Is that why you need to be in the dome,
On your stool, she wants to know ...
I give her question careful consideration
I know that it’s part of it but not everything
There are so many things that make me feel unsafe
But most of them – I don’t even know how
To begin to articulate; she tells me

That I can stay on my stool under my dome
As long as I need to and return there anytime
I have her permission to give myself permission
To keep this safe place for myself and she wonders
If this has been helpful – I tell her I think so but
I’ll have to let her know ...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Last Night I Heard Africa Drumming

In an ordinary community hall
In the south-central section of the city
On one of the longest days of the year
They gathered.

Many of them from here:
Aboriginal, M├ętis, French and English Canadians,
And many of them from the Dark Continent:
Ghanaian, Angolan, Somali, Zimbabuen

We were raising money for a drought and poverty-stricken
Hospital in Western Ghana, and doing it in style

To say the hall was filled to overflowing
Would not be an exaggeration—but the real
Fulfillment came from the sound ...

As a little-travelled Canadian white woman

My understanding of African drumming
Was pretty much limited to what I saw on TV

And in movies from Hollywood; even specials
On National Geographic did not do justice
To the splendour of real drumming
The likes of which we heard last night

First, one drummer would start and he alone
Would be powerful and loud and rhythmic
In ways that are hard to define,


Then another would do a counter-beat
And another would join in and layer his
Distinctive drum either on top or in step

Until sometimes as many as ten drummers
Were making this remarkable sound
All of them different and all the same
Transporting many of us to Africa or to dance

Or both

It was not hard to imagine being in the jungle
In the dark around a fire, hearing the beat
Of these drums playing long into the night,
Or maybe for several days or nights

So mesmerizing is the intensity of music
That is just drumming—and I do not mean
To diminish it in the least by saying ‘just’

In fact, just the opposite –that drums alone
Make such compelling music enthrals me
Thrills me, makes me want to move
As I noticed it did almost everyone
In attendance at this function

Yes, last night I heard Africa drumming
And began to understand her mystery
Just a little bit better and why
We need to keep trying with her;

Mama Africa, we hear you, we do

I found myself promising to try
Harder to help her and I will.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Amolite, Amolite

It is the official provincial gemstone
And also only one of only three stones
In the last fifty years to have been
Declared a new “gem” in the entire world.

It was formed over seventy million years ago
And is only found here, in the southern part
Of the province and there is a limited supplied
Or so the story goes – there is some dispute
About the veracity of both the exclusivity
And the location of the stone

However, owning some of this iridescent magic is addictive;
One piece is never enough—at least that has been my experience
And I am not big on jewellery; but this, this is something different

It comes in hundreds of shades and permutations, and they all
Mean different things according to the tribes that live in the area
Surrounding the small region where they are found

Perhaps that is part of the attraction, at least for me—
The legends that accompany this incredibly interesting
And beautiful stone;

I find myself wearing my greener
Necklace on days I need healing
The purple striated earrings when
I think a bit of energy is called for
And the fiery orange-red pendant
Makes me feel oh-so-sexy when I put it on

Yes amolite, the jewel made from ammonite
The rough stone mined from shale —a treasure
And Alberta’s provincial stone
My favourite jewellery by far

Doily Brains have Clouded Memories

She joked often about the holes in her head
Saying treatments to keep her sane kept
Her from remembering much about her past
As well – she said she didn’t mind not being
Able to recall her kids’ childhoods, their birthdays,
The way they looked on the first day of school
Or as they crossed the stage to get their grad
Diplomas – but sometimes she’d get a flash
And a memory would float to the surface;
She would grab at it trying to clutch it but
Memories are ephemeral, slippery as
Tears shed, and sheer as clouds – and holding
Onto them is no easy thing as well she’s learned
And learned again, and again – for who remembers?

To Tell the Truth
If truth be told, I must say
There have been times
I’ve let things slide and yes
Let you think that all be well

If truth be told, there are days
I wish you would just
Zip your lip and keep silent
Or at least keep your opinions

To yourself and let me pretend
That you agree with most
Everything that I expound
And don’t feel the need

To play devil’s advocate
During every discussion we
Ever have—because you do
You know—and when I say why

You always say you don’t at all
Or that, if you do, it’s for the fun
To keep things lively for us
Both—but I say—no, don’t

If truth be told, it wearies me
More often than enlivens so
Be a dear, quiet now, listen, hear
Let’s not fight, and just say we did

Remembering a life lived for the arts

Visit this link to find out about For Gilbert, a tribute display on at The Works right now! A poem I wrote,
"Where Are You Now?" was selected to be part of the display - I am, needless to say, thrilled.