Jul 15, 2024

The Wind


Helliwell 2019


The winds show us how close to the edge we are. 
Joan Didion 

The wind was unrelenting during my time on Hornby, 
ramming into my thoughts and morphing into metaphors. 
When the hurricane-force winds started, my entire being was on edge. 
They began in the darkness of November and continued until late March, 
the windy season. 
The maddening roar of the ocean 
the piercing howl of a spectral wind - 
and the prolonged shriek of a tree as it snaps. 
Terrorizing me night and day. 
I covered my ears and sang to make it stop. 
And then my house shook. 
It'd start with a low tremble under the floor and 
proceed to vigorously shake the walls. 
More often than not, 
a violent gust would come out of nowhere 
and blast us. 
No trembling of the floor, no shaking, 
just a direct hit. 
And then my mind raced with images burned into my teenage mind: 
The Day After 
Threads
Dancing with Tears in My Eyes 
When the 96km/h winds hit, I looked to my cat for reassurance and 
found comfort in her presence. 
I set up a bed for us on the floor under the stairs, 
thinking it'd be a safe place if a tree crashed through the house. 
Naively, I thought the winds would stop during the night, 
but they persisted. 
In the morning, they'd drop to around 50km/h, and 
I'd step outside only to have my face stung by 
bits of trees 
sand
dirt 
and who knows what else. 
Fallout.
I could only survey the aftermath from my windows. 
Trees, once proud and strong, now broken pieces of themselves 
scattered across my yard, 
branches six inches thick and seven feet long, 
cedar boughs
pine cones 
seedlings
bits and pieces of 
this 
that
and 
the other thing. 
An abandoned battlefield.

Jul 13, 2024

An Abusive Lover

Galleon Beach Winter 2020

He drew me in with
his words 
his song 
his touch. 
His playfulness and laughter. 
When he went dark and quiet 
I sat with him until 
I felt like I wasn’t enough. 
And then I left. 
He drew me back with 
the comfort of words I wanted to hear
his familiar songs 
the soft touch of his hand.
And then he went 
dark, 
violent 
and 
destructive 
and I hid my very being. 
The wind is like an abusive lover.

Jul 12, 2024

Suspect

 


The Gas Station, Fall 2019

The French guy who works at the Hornby gas station – 
We were suspicious of each other 
and shot side-eye glances. 
Uncannily familiar. 
I knew him. 
Were we foolish in a field thirty years ago? 
Did he live in Whistler? 
Maybe Nelson? 
Lollapalooza 92? 
Super grunge – can’t tell if he’s stuck in the 90s or bringing it back. 
Probably both. 
Late 40s, maybe. 
Long salt and peppery hair – always in a low pony. 
High cheekbones 
Strong features 
Slim and fit 
Wore white waffle long-john shirts under t-shirts
 - usually some death metal band. 
I know this because I asked him about his shirts
 – and then I ran out the door. 
His garbage dump green ten-speed 
leaned against the brown tile wall  
beside the front door. 
He drove an old blue Volvo wagon – last washed in 1994. 
Coexist noncompliant.
The one time I saw him outside of working hours, 
he got out of his car with bare feet so dirty they were black. 
It was Fall, and he was wearing jeans. 
Had a partner.
He built a little farm. 
Super hot. 
One day, when I bought an ice cream sandwich out of boredom, 
he asked me if I was Danish. 
Our only attempt at prolonged conversation
other than 4.25. 
I told him I was Norwegian and French, 
and asked him why. 
He said I seemed very familiar. 
With a mouth of rocks and cotton
 - You too
We threw around some locales where 
we could’ve met, 
but there were none. 
And there we have it. 
I knew that guy from somewhere, and he knew me. 
And that was that.
Maybe we met at a gig? 
Oh well
Ya

Misnomers

 


It was a late July afternoon when I met him. 
Out of boredom, I often poked around in the heaps of crap up at the recycling depot, 
daydreaming of uncovering some acclaimed BC potter's discarded wares
or a fixed-gear bike I could resell to a particular genre if and when I ever made it back to Vancouver. 

On this particular summer day, my foot was meditatively flipping broken plates over when a scruffy orange cat sashayed out from the bushes beside me. 

We greeted each other, and my eyes followed a smear of black grease down its back that ended at 
a gargantuan ball sack swaying between its legs. 

You've got some pretty big balls there, pussycat. 

A raspy voice belonging to someone who drank too much the night before 
piped up from somewhere behind me. 

That guy's responsible for 90% of the feral colony on the island. 

Embarrassed by my uncouth observation of the feline's anatomy and 
taken aback because I was being watched, I turned to see a 
fuzzy-haired, 
shirtless, 
overly tanned, 
leather-skinned dude
in his mid-40s 
leaning against a sheet of corrugated metal. 

This guy absolutely spent his formative years loitering outside a corner store in a
mesh number 83 half-top and nut huggers on his stolen BMX, trying to sell smokes to minors. 

He smiled a plaque-toothed grin and nodded in the cat's direction. 
His name's Göring. You know who Göring is? 

Armed with a useless history degree with a major in Nazi Germany, 
I knew who Göring was - but for the sake of any in-depth conversation, 
I played dumb. 

After a long mansplanation of the Luftwaffe's strategy, he introduced himself as Bishop. 

But I go by Bish

Oh fuck. 

My two best dude friends had sternly warned me about this guy. 
My female friends simply stated, 
Stay far away from Bish. 
Don't talk to him. 
Don't even look in his direction. 
He's not a good person. 
Which, of course, explains his cat's unfortunate misnomer. 

While making small talk, I slowly backed away.
It's super to meet you, Bish; enjoy your day with Göring! 
When I was far enough away, I turned my back to him. 
Hey, what's your name? Who are you with? 
I played deaf. 
He organized a beach party to celebrate Derek's death a year later.

Jul 4, 2024

Ask Around

morning coffee on my deck - one of the best things in life
 
Ask around. 
That's the answer you'd get on the Island when asking a question, discussing a challenge in your yard, where to find a particular tool and the like.
When you live in a remote small community, a Google search for near me is futile. 
You have to ask around
Asking around means:  
knocking on your neighbours’ doors, 
chit-chatting, 
presenting situations and 
problem-solving. 
If the problem can’t be solved with a tete-a-tete with your neighbour, ask around branches out.
The neighbour asks their contacts, and you ask around some more. 
You ask around at:  
the hardware store 
the gas station
the corner store and 
the coffee wagon. 
It's a process that requires patience and persistence, 
standing around and asking around until a solution is found. 
Nine times out of ten, you’re given a name and a vague description of someone’s house. 
Lyel might know. Go ask him. He lives off Solans in the school bus with the house built on top. 
Now you have to go knock on a strange man’s door. Who's also probably drunk.
Word starts to get around that you're asking around. 
In a few weeks, there’s a ten-out-of-ten chance someone will knock on your door and help you solve the problem 
—no strings attached. 
That’s what community is all about
—helping your neighbour and, in turn, being helped by them. 
I remember a time I was working in my yard, and I heard the brass bird bell on my gate clang. 
It was an awkward and embarrassed dude I’d never seen before, 
Hi, I’m sorry to bother you. I'm looking for Jean's house. I was given a brief description of what it looked like and was told it was over this way. I couldn't find it, and they told me to ask around, but no one was home anywhere. 
I empathized completely with the poor soul. 
Unfortunately, I didn’t know Jean. 
I pointed him toward my neighbours Scott and Bailey’s place and told him to ask around there.
After I sold my house on Hornby, I moved to another unfamiliar city. 
I tried to have conversations with folks and get to know people. 
I asked around about amenities, restaurants, and where to get plants for my garden
 – that kind of thing. 
 Nine out of ten times, the reply was, 
Just do a search
I flipped them off and walked away. 
No, I didn't. But I wanted to.

Jul 2, 2024

Doused in Mud Soaked in Bleach


My first home and the first Christmas lights I ever hung.
Mica and Caspian, the little guys next door, loved them. They'd never seen Christmas lights before.
Christmas 2020 Hornby Island

Come doused in mud, soaked in bleach 
As I want you to be 
As a trend, as a friend 
As an old memoria 
 - Kurt Cobain, Come as You Are

It was Christmas Eve on the Island, and I wanted to dress up. 
I’d only packed a few things in my duffel bag for my two-week stay, 
yet here I was on week thirty-two. 
I’d been wearing the same thing every day for months because it was all I had packed: 
men’s vintage jeans - six sizes too big 
wool sweater – heavily repaired 
burgundy toque – stretched out 
men’s fifty-year-old down coat – shedding feathers 
hiking boots - muddy 
I felt as dumpy and worn out as my clothes. 

I can’t remember if I was wearing my fake fur coat when I took off from Vancouver nine months prior or if I’d shoved it into my bag on my rush out the door. Nevertheless, the fake fur hung on a hook-shaped piece of driftwood nailed to the wall beside my front door—now, more of a dusty boho decoration than a wearable garment. I knew it would be my cat's, and possibly my dad's last Christmas, but something in me wanted to get dressed up, and that fake fur coat was the dressiest thing I had.

My fuck this, I don’t give a shit anymore attitude wasn’t fully developed yet at nine months in, but it was strong enough to construct a whatever; I’m going to find some people to stand around with. I polished up my boots and grabbed my dusty fake fur coat on the way out the door. I was headed to Ringside to see if I could find some humans. 

Ringside is Hornby’s version of downtown and is located at the Island’s only four-way stop. It consists of six vibrantly painted hand-built caravans organized in a circle - hence Ringside - a conglomerate of local artisan wares, tie-dyed tourist crap, seasonal tacos, and city-priced coffee. It’s also a dependable spot where locals gather for rumours and news. You go to the gas station parking lot to find out where to get an iron clawfoot tub, but if you want to know whose nephew is sleeping with Colleen’s daughter, you go to Ringside. 

The past nine months were hard for everyone on the Island because of the pandemic. The Co-op was constantly running out of food and supplies, people were divided by medical beliefs, and the winter hurricane winds had started early. I wasn’t sure what I’d encounter at Ringside, but I’d hoped it was humans. 

Walking across the gravel parking lot, I saw that I wasn’t the only one who had made the Christmas Eve pilgrimage. Ringside was bustling. Folks dressed up in moth-eaten fur coats, Halloween top hats, silver garland boas and a vast array of Christmas accoutrements. Some stood alone, some in pairs, but most looked awkward and uncomfortable. 

It was a gathering of misfits, bound not only by our haphazard Christmas finery but also by faith and resilience. We’d pulled ourselves together in whatever way we could and left the isolation of our homes to acknowledge a tradition that not many of us usually followed. We were drawn together with the same hope—a welcoming face and a friendly smile. As much as our situations were ripe for despair, our faith and resilience won. 

I didn’t talk to anyone on Christmas Eve, but being surrounded and connected to those raw souls was more than enough.

Stand Again

 

Me, Flo, and snap peas from my garden Hornby July 1, 2021

All I had left to love, to live for, was myself - and I’d never done that before. 
My life, as I had known it, was over. 
I’d lost everything.
But it was the loss of a future that I’d envisioned 
that hurt the most. 
You cannot hurry, grief. 
You have to sit with it. 
You sit with it until faith shows you you’re strong enough to stand again.
And you will.

Beach Shrapnel


Go to the beach access by Jane's - it's the beach with the furthest low tide on the island 
Park at the first curve in the road - 
Seawright off Central 
Pullover till your tires are almost in the ditch – 
just under the massive maples and random alders. 
You need to run into the ditch and up the steep embankment on the other side. 
Take the narrow path between the giant sword ferns – 
it'll probably be super muddy. 
Just a five-minute walk. 
If you're lucky, there's a piece of wood slapped over the mud by a previous beachgoer. 
Step slowly. Don't slip. 
You'll need your groin muscles to climb the ladder down the cliff face. 
A pair of bald eagles nest atop 
a giant dead cedar near the beach. 
They've been there for years. 
If you hear them, you'll know you're close. 
Be careful along this section – the terrain changes. 
It's a steep incline, and the rocks are slippery. 
The cliff's coming up. 
There's an old wooden ladder propped up against the cliff face 
Be careful climbing down. 



Sun blinks through them 
strobe-like, 
even in winter 
when their leaves are all gone. 

Pieces of salvaged sunbleached plywood, 
ancient candy-coloured paint 
still visible through the sludge of the Earth 

An eagle's screech 
ushers in a new type of air-- 
less dense and electric. 

The path narrows 
a flash of nuclear light temporarily blinds me, 
and I lose my balance on the slippery edges of jagged rocks 
as I'm hit with the wet shrapnel wind of the crashing waves.


Jun 30, 2024

Skin it


The corner store where we shot the shit.

She moved to that island thirty years ago without ever having visited. 
I met her at Fish & Chips - the fish and chips food truck down at Ford Cove.
A super cool woman. 
I'd specifically go down to the Cove to chat with her – 
but mainly off-season. 
Because the tourists were too much for me. 
She also worked stocking shelves and doing cash at the corner store. 
I thought that she was psychic. 
So, I sniffed around when I was with her. 
And she was. 
Folks would come into the Cove and have her choose their 
Lotto tickets. 
They'd line up sometimes six or seven deep. 
I watched them. 
Customer after customer came in with winning tickets. 
Myself included. 
She picked the Set for Life tickets for me. 
I started with winning free plays, then cash. 
Each win increased with each ticket. 
My lucky streak broke when I went against my intuition
that she was psychic 
and got my ticket from another gal. 
I haven't won since - and it's been three years. 

Snacks Gallery Art Supplies

We were both at the Nirvana concert at the PNE Forum in '94. 
She was at the front - against the stage and ended up passing out. 
While she was out, she saw seven white horses. 
That's when I knew I was dead. 
Sam had very cool style. 
We'd talk music, vintage, and jerkoff dudes. 
The eras we'd like to put together, 
the cut of the women's silky nylon 70s blouses, 
vintage Lees 
and why the 90s does 70s worked so well. 
She loves shopping at thrift stores. 
Her Dad owned a clothing boutique in Kerrisdale - similar to Hills. 
No kids. 
We lived in Whistler at the same time. 
1990-92. 
She worked at The Boot pub. 
Our paths most certainly crossed at some point. 
I was probably drunk and told her I liked her outfit or something. 
Shoulder-length blond hair – 
I like to keep it like Kurt's
She's edgier than her identical twin sister. 
A tough cookie. 
I never used to be like this
Old drunk dudes hit on her, and she's had enough. 
I'm tired of being nice. 
 - I can relate - 

The Cove

She found a dead sea lion with a perfect hide 
down at Sandpiper Beach. 
I wanted the hide for a rug. 
So she decided to skin it. 
When she was scoping out the situation, 
an old dude came over and told her he'd found it first. 
You're a woman. You don't have the means to skin it. 
They argued. 
He laughed in her face. 
Go ahead and skin it then. 
She got her knives and started. 
The old dude sat on a log, watched and mocked. 
It took hours. 
She said around the third or fourth hour, 
she'd become so angry at the old dude disrupting 
what was supposed to be a cathartic ritual that 
she lost focus, sliced too hard, and tore through the hide. 
She kept skinning, and the old dude kept mocking. 
You're doing it wrong. 
By the end of the day, she had the hide. 
I didn't think you had it in you. 
She told me that every time she looks at that 
tear in the sea lion's hide, 
hatred boils up inside her, and she takes it out on all men. 
Talking with her down at the Cove 
and with her twin at the pottery shop 
were the high points of my time on that island. 
It's a joy to speak with like-minded women my age. They're hard to find.  

Jun 29, 2024

Fireballs


I did that

It's far enough in the past that I can see myself there, at my cabin out in the yard, wrapping myself up in the experience of the changing seasons. 
The wind's cold on my face, but I won't go inside until I can feel the chill deep within my cheeks. 
Stoke the fire, make hot chocolate, snuggle with my cat, and 
watch the birds from the bed beside the window. 
Dark-eyed Juncos snacking on Salal berries, 
Spotted Towhees kicking up dry leaves and
Rufous Hummingbirds fighting over a flower on the Oregon grape. 

My yard's my sanctuary. 
The cedars and firs protect me, 
hold me, 
and help me heal. 
Because 
there are no
arms 
to fall 
into. 

My first autumn on the island was spent clearing my land by hand – the Back 40. I planned to build some raised vegetable beds and live off the land as much as possible. I wasn't sure exactly how to make those beds or where I'd get the soil, but that's what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, the only yard tools I had were a rotting pick axe I found in the bushes and a metal lawn rake left by the previous owners. 

The Back 40 – was about half an acre filled with: 
rocks 
sandy soil 
4 ft tall Bracken ferns 
Salal 
Huckleberry 
Blackberry 
Dandelion and 
Garter snakes 

There were a lot of rocks on my property: giant slabs of conglomerate, perfectly round stones, and large boulders. 

I'd choose the spot I'd work on that day by the rock I tripped over. 
Trip 
Curse 
Kick 
Dig 

I'd spend the day digging the rocks out. 
First, I'd kick them to see what I was dealing with, 
and then I'd kick them some more because it felt good. 
The work - physically draining but emotionally satisfying. 

Once I could see more of the rock, I'd try to pull it out with my stinky work glove-clad hands. If that didn't work, I'd use the head of the pick axe – whose handle broke off the first time I used it. 

Sometimes, the rocks were hidden by thick Salal bushes. In which case, once the snakes vacated, I'd start cutting the Salal back to grab hold of its roots and pull it out while briefly considering business opportunities in Salal distribution. 

My buddy Dave warned me not to pull the Salal out. 
Stace, you can't win against Salal. 
I didn't listen. No matter how many times I failed. 
Salal has a deep and wide root system. 
And most of the time, I'd end up in a tug of war and on my ass. 
Root system still intact. 
Clearing the rocks became an obsessive challenge. 

When the day's battle with the Salal and the rocks came to an end, I'd throw the rocks under the tallest tree on my property—the Douglas fir, which stood over 100 feet tall and whose top twinkled like a star on a Christmas tree when the setting sun caught it just right. 

Sometimes, I'd pretend I was a shot putter; other times, I was back on the softball field, and even more times, I was hurling balls of fire. 

Overhand 
Underhand 
Hurl 

I threw the rocks with my eyes closed. 
Occasionally, over my shoulder for luck. 
With each rock I threw, I released a stuck memory. 
The flat clap of the rock hitting another signified success. 
I never saw where they'd land, and the thick Salal surrounding the tree hid the pile. I'd consider future inhabitants of the land pondering the meaning of all the rocks piled under the tree. 
Is something buried there? 
Yes.

The Back 40 after I cleared it and put in the beds and firepit

The rocks are under the fir tree to the right.

Jun 27, 2024

The Songs Will Linger On


When you're out there on your own
Where your memories can find you
like a circle goes around
You were lost until you found out
What it all comes down to

One by one, the lonely feeling's gone
Day by day, they slowly fade away

Ooh, the look was in her eyes
You never know what might be found there
She was dancing right in time
And the moves she made so fine
Like the music that surrounds her

Should I stay or go?
I really want to know
Would I lose or win
If I try and love again

Gonna try and love again
I'm gonna try and love again
Gonna try and love

Right or wrong, what's done is done
It's only moments that you borrow
But the thoughts will linger on for the lady and her song
When the sun comes up tomorrow

Well it might take years to see through all these tears
Don't let go, when you find it you will know

Songwriter: Randy Meisner

Jun 24, 2024

Earth 88

Hidden Beach Summer 2021

Virtually all students of the extinction process agree that biological diversity is in the midst of its sixth great crisis, this time precipitated entirely by man. 

Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University, 1988 

You're already trying to hang on day by day by a mere thread. 
Then, the air thickens, suffocating you; your veins expand, your hands and feet balloon, 
and dizziness engulfs you. 
Yet, you must stay focused, not for yourself but for your dying cat. 
You must ensure she's comfortable and at peace.
Make sure she doesn't have a heart attack -
that would seal her fate. 
If that happens, there's no help. 
No vets and no escape from the island. 
You'll have to end your soul mate's suffering yourself. 

I had so much anxiety during the Heat Dome I thought I was going to collapse. 
When nature turns against you, survival is the only instinct. 
Your mind races, desperately seeking solutions. 
What do I have to do? 
How can I cool down? 
How can I lower my heart rate?

When I found the dead house sparrow on my deck, 
I knew the tide had turned, and I had to leave. 
I buried the little bird, wrapped in a shroud of paper towels, 
on a bed of flowers from my garden. 
The little bird now rests beneath a mound of rocks 
at the foot of the cedar tree on the East side of my property. 
The cedar, whose branch once danced across my yard 
like a wayward broomstick during a winter storm. 
One of two remaining cedars on my property. 
The cedar that stood beside the three Douglas Firs, 
where Flo and I drank morning coffee. 

My yard mainly consisted of conglomerate rock and salal roots, 
which made digging the grave for the little bird difficult. 
I knew Flo would die soon. 
Where would I bury her?

The Raven

Raven at Galleon Beach Feb 2021


A white raven flew in front of my car while I headed up HWY 19 past Qualicum Beach. 
The bird seemed to glide. 
Its wings pressed against its body as it floated past my windshield.
A surreal experience I took as an omen.  
It was the early morning of Friday, August 13th, 2021, and I was on my way back from Vancouver after 
unsuccessfully trying to secure a place to live. 
When I arrived home an hour later, my cat was dying. 

Hwy 19 where I saw the white raven

The monarchs of the island. 
The ravens were a constant fixture on my property, yet I hardly saw them. 
I knew they were there. My silent companions.
Watching me. I could feel them. 
I'd hear their deep gargling call and look into the Firs, yet see nothing. 
I talked to them every day. 
I asked them to give me a hand in the yard, 
asked them questions, 
and expressed my overall exasperation with my situation. 
They often blew by me, just overhead. 
I wouldn't see them coming; they'd just blow by. 
Gone before the sound of the broken air faded. 

In early September, a week before I left the island, a raven came to me in my yard. 
It sat in the grand cedar that guarded the grave of the little bird that died in the heat dome. 
On the tree's lowest branch, it sat unobstructed, watching me. 

It was lunchtime, and I was at the picnic table my dad built for me. 
My heart was heavy with grief. 
Grief over the loss of Flo. 
Grief that I had to sell the home that I loved. 
Grief that my dad was given just a few months to live 
and grief that the pandemic still raged.

The raven sat motionless. 
We looked each other in the eyes 
Hello. It's nice to finally meet you. Would you like to join me for lunch? 
 ~This ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling ~

My dad built me the picnic table and benches. I had to leave them behind.

I'd brought out stuff to make an avocado sandwich, but I'd forgotten my napkin in the kitchen. 
I told the raven not to eat my lunch while I went back inside. 
When I returned - no more than thirty seconds later, 
all that remained of the avocado was the spotless pit. 
The tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, cheese, and bread – all still there. 
I was confused by how fast the theft happened. 
I'd left numerous meals outside unattended, and nothing was ever touched. 

I went to the cabin to get another avocado. 
When I opened the door, the raven landed atop it. 
I'd experienced so many unexplainable things during my time on Hornby that 
nothing shocked me anymore. 
I smiled at the bird. 
Did you fly in from the Night's Plutonian shore? 
I almost expected it to answer, Nevermore to my obvious Poe reference. 

Unafraid, the raven perched on my open door, watching me in the kitchen. 
He didn't flinch as I made my way out back to my lunch.
Facing the bird while I ate, I asked him about his day,
his thoughts and
whether that was the first avocado he'd tried.
He didn't move his eyes from me. 
It'd be a lie if I said I wasn't a bit nervous. 
A sound in the woods made me briefly turn my head from our conversation. 
I turned back, and the raven was gone. 

leaving

During my last few days on the island, 
I looked for my silent companion, 
talked to him, 
and called out to him, 
but there was nothing. 

The day to leave my home had come —my final goodbye. 
Holding back tears, I locked the door the raven had perched on, 
put the key under the mat and 
headed out the side gate. 
The raven landed atop. 

My heart dropped.
Knowingly, we looked into each other's eyes, 
My friend. Thank you. 
I walked over to my car parked at the driveway gate, 
and the raven followed. 
He perched atop the gate. 
I got in my car and backed out of the driveway for the last time.
The raven watched me as I pulled away.

Jun 21, 2024

Split


My woodpile

I saw it the moment I stepped into the yard. 
The covered pile of wood in the backyard confirmed this place would be my first home. 
The pile was about 75 by 25 by 8. 
I don’t know how many cords it was, but it was a lot of wood. 

A sixty-forty split of Douglas fir and Western red cedar; 
the firewood came from the trees on my new property. 
The trees fell to make room for the cabin, 
and the good ones were used to build it; 
the remainder put aside to be dealt with later. 

On a perfect day in late July, a few months after I moved into my new home, 
I decided to start chopping the wood. 

Alone amongst the trees, 
I took the first swing with the old axe I’d found 
in the shed behind the cabin. 
The blade lodged - 
the wood didn’t split. 

I tried again, 
but with anger. 
Yes. 
Striking with anger 
felt good. 
And even better
when 
I screamed. 

Wood 
Swing 
Strike
Scream 

Trance-like rhythm. 

Every piece of wood 
a memory. 
Each strike split my heart open – 
again. 
I screamed up to the trees, 
phrases, curses, profanities, 
names. 
The memories were too real. 
I was in it all again. 
But this time, 
took control. 

Some pieces of wood were 
rotten and termite-infested, 
the larvae still moving deep inside. 
Others, when hit with my axe, turned to dust. 
Some smelled so pure
they brought me down from my rage, 
and I could turn away 
- for a moment. 

Some I pulled apart with my hands.

Others were impenetrable— 
knots, 
deep tangled secrets 
that I could only split around. 
Or not at all. 
Trauma

The trees. 

I chopped wood for hours on that perfect day in late July. 
It felt like thirty minutes. 
When I decided I was done, 
I walked away. 
A few hours later, I returned. 
Raw but awake. 

Gently, I picked up each piece of split wood, 
each memory, 
and carried it to the back of the covered wood pile
 – the side hidden by trees. 
Private and protected. 
I wanted them kept safe from harm, 
so I could burn them - 
triumphantly. 

My resolved memories 
fueled the flames 
that kept my cat and me warm; 
they heated food that gave us sustenance. 
And then 
they turned 
to ash. 

That first pile of wood I split on that perfect day in late July was 
the first split into myself. 

A Self, close to half a century old - 
knotted branches, 
lichen and moss, 
cracks, 
and stories. 
But in the centre, beneath the drying bark, the first ring—the beginning, prana.

My small wood stove


The woodpile

The Wind