I decided they would be worth keeping, if only for the humour and nostalgia in going over the thoughts and offerings of the teenage dreamer I was.
The plan has been to scan the lot, and then send the paper piles back for a boxed existence in my mother’s basement on some back shelf.
Last night I dragged out the various envelopes within, and sifted through. Most of the poems I found there were naïve and badly composed. They try too hard, with long adjectives and disjointed concepts. Who was that girl? I find it amazing that she lived in my frame, looked in the mirror and saw the young me.
So much has changed and I have forgotten how she felt. All that is left is the paper trail of her untidy emotions.
And then I found the following. It is dated April 22nd, 1994. I was 24 years old and Q was just over 1 year. We were living in an old row house in Toronto. The back window looked out over rusted train tracks and beyond that, lake Ontario.
The highrises around us were overflowing with the city’s poorest and most marginalized. We dodged used needles and condoms that littered the sidewalks on our daily outtings. I remember having at first thought the neighborhood was vibrant and gritty, when we had opted to move out here, for cheaper rent but still within walking distance to work.
We had recently lost our restaurant, investors had backed out right as the place was establishing itself as a fixture in the area. It was a few blocks over in the ‘trendy’ neighborhood of Queen West, and Q’s father, (my ex-locker partner and high school sweetheart) was on a slippery path to self destruction. It was the reason the business had fallen apart. Too much too young? Addiction: lies, behaviour changes followed.
This particular day, he gathered our comforter from the bed and carried it with purpose to the living room with it’s big bay window. Q and I watched him with curiousity, and I with a sinking feeling in my stomach. He hoisted himself up on a chair, and stretched from his tippy toes to nail the heavy blanket across the top of the window frame.
The smashing noise from the hammer was deafening and Q looked up at me, uneasy. I scooped him up and whisked him off to the other room to play. Then M walked by us. The light in the hallway had disappeared, shrouded in thick cloth.
M: “That old lady from next door! She keeps watching us! Well, I’ll show her…”
me: “What are you talking about?!”
Door slam. He was gone for the afternoon. I could only guess where, and did not want to take that mental journey. I lied down beside Q and his stuffed animals and sang softly, running my hands gently through his loose black curls, until he drifted off to sleep. Then I got up and decided to write, to put things in perspective and keep myself sane:
“His face was broad, the skin creamy and smooth and tight. This carefully beautiful face, created as if to make a mother question the sarcastic overtones of a ‘concept of God’.
Oh, he was no ordinary soul. A mother was sure. Why, one only had to ponder the enormous circumference of his eyes. Not uncommon was it to be stopped several times during the daily walks, with comments of praise and astonishment at the wonder of his gaze.
A mother again had to question her accomplishment. For even then she knew it was a twosome till death-do-us-part. Mother and child. Somehow she's known this while he played within her. Mompati - 'my companion', the name she'd given him after all the others on his birth papers.
And she felt comfort in that shred of stability, as everything else slowly fogged over around her.”