Scarborough Seniors Write Anthology
All materials copyright © 2017 Scarborough Seniors Write – Scarborough Arts and its contributors For requests of reprints & permission to make copies of any part of the work, contact Scarborough Arts. For more information on Scarborough Arts and our other projects, visit: www.scarborougharts.com Cover Art: Daniel Rotsztain www.theurbangeographer.ca @theurbangeog Book Design: Marianne Rellin Scarborough Arts 1859 Kingston Road Scarborough, ON M1N 1T3 www.scarborougharts.com Tel: 416.698.7322 Fax: 416.698.7972
Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat
Table of Contents 9
Finding Friends in Unexpected Places Margaret Abela
Ocean Therapy Shirley Airdrie
All These Leaves Sheila Bello
Memories of Frenchmanâ€™s Island Lottie Bowering
A Touch of Dutch Mario Dimain
My Favourite Nursing Experiences Gloria Easton
Between The Rails Dennis Foyle
Life Teresa Hall
Dear Friends â€” Carol and Rosalie Joyce Hayes 1
Lost on the TTC David Hobberlin
Retirement, how’s that going for you? Wendy Hooker
语言 Languages Haiqing Hua (Oliver)
February Rules Joan Kehoe
The Old Library Denise Kemp
Laila in Spring Mohammad H Khan
Radio Silence Hector King Jr.
Bringing Brother Home Helen Koski
Roads to Peace with Poems Lawrence Arthur Kosowan
Birches Anne Leon
Anne Pedro Leon
Reunion with my Sister in North Korea Joan Little
108 On the Other Side of the Door David Henry Mazumdar 116 Barry Loved Linda Marilyn McNeil 122 Lily Darcy Miller 124 The Summer Adventure Irene Plachtinsky 130 La Delgada Linea Amarilla Jim Richardson 144 Picassoâ€™s Muse Marilyn Rivers 148 An Energetic Retiree Lisan Tao 155 Two Crows (Requiem to a Dead Elm) Sheila White
The 2017 Seniors Write Anthology is a compilation of twenty-nine literary works by individual authors. Each work chosen reflects an important voice from Scarborough; together, these selections highlight the diversity of our amazing community. Through poetry and short stories, fiction and non-fiction the writing gives life to the history and experience of these amazing seniors. It is with much pride and celebration that Scarborough Arts continues to support and highlight the development of these authors through the Seniors Write program. We invite you to read and celebrate their outstanding work.
Scarborough Seniors Write
Finding Friends in Unexpected Places Margaret Abela
From time to time I receive e-cards extolling the qualities of good friends, replete with pictures of cuddly kittens and puppies with appealing eyes. To paraphrase the typical message: a friend is someone who will be there through thick and thin, will listen when youâ€™ve had a bad day, and will remain your friend even when your behaviour has been less than desirable. I have such a friend. Her name is Sandra, though sheâ€™s no ball of fluff but rather a woman of mettle, which she needs to be to contend with friends like me. We have known one another for more years than we care to acknowledge, yet I see her only once every six months. Sandra is my dental hygienist. There is an interesting dynamic to our relationship. She employs the skills of priest, prophet, and psychologist, while I in return 9
stumble through the parts of wise older woman, recalcitrant child, and inveterate storyteller. I have developed an array of diversionary tactics to avoid the question, â€œHow have you been doing with your flossing since I saw you last?â€? Instead of answering, I launch immediately into complaints of the weather, and feel badly because I know she must be bored. Then I turn to the exploits of my grandchildren. Who would be so uncouth as to interrupt my flow of chatter? Certainly not Sandra. Out of politeness, I do allow her a little time to tell me about watering parched plants and walking her dog. My coat is hung up, my bag safely stowed, I recline in the chair with a bib around my neck and the conversation starts to flag. The dreaded question is about to be broached. I recall past responses that usually begin with a prologue of how all went well the first few weeks, in an attempt to garner at least some credit for initial effort. This is followed by the bad news of how I fell off the wagon, like the dieter who impulsively ate the cream-filled donut; I explain that having missed one flossing I gave in to a losing battle. There is a variation on this theme that plays on perfectionism and procrastination. 10
I recount how my diligent flossing was interrupted when I went on vacation and my floss stayed home. I postponed recommencing flossing until all danger of interruptions had passed, and I could once more aim for a perfect record. I have always found Sandra a perceptive listener, anxious to encourage me to persist in flossing even when the fates conspire against me. Of course, I have mentioned to her the physical difficulties attendant to flossing. The awkwardness of lining up the thread at the right angle, decisions on suitable thickness to avoid the cheese slice effect or having to endure the uncomfortable experience of a piece of floss wedged between teeth. Sandra is nothing if not patient, providing me with hands-on lessons in flossing technique, the benefit of her experience on the merits of different types of floss, and a word to the dentist who filed a smidgeon of tooth that was snagging the thread. Because Sandra has my ultimate welfare at heart, I appreciate that she must act occasionally with a degree of firmness. I once advanced the idea of giving up flossing altogether and moving to wooden toothpicks. Why just relegate them to spearing olives and cheese at parties? But she 11
told me the sad tale of a man who had resorted to toothpicks and how splinters of various sizes had been retrieved from his gums; one imbedded more deeply than the others had led to an abscess. She said it was amazing what some people will do to avoid flossing. In the past, I had assumed that when I muttered to her shamefacedly that I had failed to floss my teeth on average three times a week since my last visit that this was a confidential admission, perhaps even sacrosanct. However, I wondered if sometimes she dropped a hint to the big boss. When he checked my teeth, he seemed keen to reinforce her message, tapping on molars urging me to give special attention to cleaning around them. If she did tell him, Iâ€™m confident it was done with the best of intentions. I last saw Sandra a couple of weeks ago. When it got to the fateful question, I paused to think of an explanation I hadnâ€™t used before. I thought of saying I was losing my grip to arthritis but realized I didnâ€™t have the appropriate knuckles. I considered saying the cat had got my ball of floss, batted it around and lost it, but it sounded too much like the dog ate my homework. Sandra waited. It was more like the cat had got my 12
tongue. I looked up into her eyes, blushed and said something like, “Well, I guess you’ve heard them all.” Sandra laughed good-naturedly because that’s the kind of understanding person she is. She proceeded to work on my teeth, uttering words of wisdom as she scraped away at plaque and tartar, swilled the debris from my mouth, and polished my teeth. As I left, she gave me a gift: a toothbrush engraved, Sandra says brush and floss, so that I won’t forget her and my renewed commitment. We smiled and said “Goodbye. See you in six months.” I looked up at the plaque on her wall, the only plaque she permits in her office. The polished oak gleamed and the words of wisdom linger in my mind. ‘You don’t have to floss all your teeth, only those you want to keep.’ Everyone should have a friend like Sandra.
About the Author Margaret Abela was born in England and worked in London and Geneva before settling and raising a family in Scarborough. She is a graduate of York University. She has developed occupational health and safety educational programs and enjoys writing poetry, non-fiction, and short stories, a few of which have been published. 13
Ocean Therapy Shirley Airdrie
When earthly woes invade my peace I find solace at the beach Troubles tend to shrink in size In the vast expanse of sea and sky Swallowed up in the rolling waves Together they journey to their grave Meeting their fate at the shore Where they ebb and die and are no more A sense of calm washes over me Sitting on the sand by the mighty sea
About the Author Shirley Aidrie is a senior, residing in Scarborough. Her family includes two children, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. She enjoys interacting with other like-minded seniors from her writing group. Putting her thoughts on paper has now become a passion she can indulge in.
All These Leaves Sheila Bello
looking out from my undraped window I gaze in silence at the unfolding scene in my Scarborough yard drizzle is ending noisy winds and sunshine on this autumn day in their aging days maple, oak and birch leaves still beautiful shades of red, brown and yellow beside the green of pines
a howling wind plucks more leaves and flings them down I shift my gaze from half empty trees to fallen leaves wilting maple, oak and birch scattered on the wet grass limp leaves mingle with siblings on the ground in time, all these leaves will become one with the earth enriching it with food that will sustain a new cycle of birth and growth soon I will have to gather and compost all these leaves before the start of winter
About the Author Sheila Bello is a poet and writer. Her works include creative nonfiction, short fiction, and various forms of poetry. She has published a volume of poetry; additionally, her writings have been published in anthologies and journals locally, nationally, and internationally. She helped to establish the Scarborough Seniors Write program of which she is a participant. She is a member of The Ontario Poetry Society, Haiku Canada, Tanka Canada, Scarborough Arts, and the Scarborough Poetry Club.
Memories of Frenchman’s Island In Memory of Calvin and George Lottie Bowering
Going to Frenchman’s Island was always exciting. The mile long ride from Seal Islands to the store at Frenchman’s Island was an exhilarating time for us children because we would be going for a boat ride and we could get groceries and treats! Seal Islands and Frenchman’s Island were the only inhabited areas for many miles, and Frenchman’s had a store only during the summer. There was chatter, laughter, and joking as the fresh, cold sea wind blew through our hair and the small motorboat rocked on the waves, sending salt spray into our faces. We watched for seals and birds as we went. Now and then we would see puffins on the rocks. They were so cute with their round heads, puffy cheeks, pretty eyes, and colourful beaks. My family lived at Seal Islands, a small fishing 19
village on the south east coast of Labrador during the summer and shifted to Frenchmanâ€™s Island for the winter. It was a fish collection station (a room, really) where my father worked as a boat pilot and labourer for the summer. It was nestled in a flat area of a rocky, treeless hill with hills and cliffs all around it. It consisted of a salmon store, an icehouse, a shop (grocery store), a clapboard (cook) house, and the big house. The manager of the station and his family lived in the big house for the summer. Up the hill above the salmon store was a warehouse. A wharf ran along the shore below the buildings. Boats docked at the wharf where fresh salmon was collected and put on ice in big boxes. Salt cod and cod liver were unloaded and stored for shipment. An RT (radio telephone) was put in the big house in the early fifties, and messages could be sent and received. We lived in the cookhouse in winter, where some of the staff stayed during the summer and a cook prepared meals for all of the workers. During the fall of 1951, my father, mother, younger brother Calvin, and I shifted over to Frenchmanâ€™s to live in the new cookhouse. Our older sister Shirley was away at the time. 20
We loaded our belongings into the boat at night after my father got off work. I remember sleeping in the bottom of the boat in cosy blankets under a canvas tarp for the trip, then nothing until the next day when we were already there. One day I remember looking down over the cliff into the deep, dark blue water, watching the bull birds. It looked like they were flying under water as they zigzagged and swirled through the water chasing fish. Calvin and I liked to fish on the wharf with our cousins Lorelie and Ross who lived there that winter. Our parents didnâ€™t like us to go to the front of the wharf, so sometimes we put our hook and line down through a hole. When we caught a sculpin, we had to tear the hook out because we couldnâ€™t get the fish up through the little hole! We had no running water or electricity. When the well froze, my father cut ice from the ponds, brought it home in large canvass bags and melted it in a large steel tank. For light we used kerosene lamps. We lived mostly off the land from hunting and fishing. Supplies bought in the fall supplemented this: salt pork fat for cooking, salt beef, dried capelin and salt cod. We also had canned milk, jam made with bake apples 21
(cloudberries), red berries (partridge berries), and blueberries and blackberries (crowberries). We always had fresh bread and usually something sweet was baked for the weekend, and served with canned fruit. You might say we were seminomadic hunter-gatherers who liked a sweet treat now and then. In the winter, we travelled by a team of huskies to visit family and friends in the nearby bays and to get wood for warmth and cooking since the bays were inside the tree line. The first time I remember going to the bay to visit, I exclaimed, “Look at all the spars!” The only thing I could associate the trees with, on seeing them for the first time, were spars on the boats. Calvin and I loved to play with the new puppies when one of the dogs had a litter. My brother had a pet dog. We called it a ‘crackie’ since it wasn’t a sled dog. That winter of 1952, one of the dogs attacked and killed his pet. Calvin was heartbroken. He cried and cried—his pet doggie was gone. It took a long time to get cheer him up. My brother and I had lots of fun climbing the hills, playing in the snow with our cousins, sliding down the hills on our little komatiks, and seeing visitors who came. News and music on our 22
battery operated radio kept us entertained. There was always a lot of storytelling, singing, and telling yarns. Some people would play the guitar or accordion and Uncle Amos would play the fiddle. Now and then someone would do a step dance to the jigs and reels on the radio, or play the accordion on a Saturday night. It was very cold in the new cookhouse. The frost on the windows was an inch thick. We used to take the lid off the kettle, melt a round hole in the frost and scrape the round part off to look outside. Calvin and I slept in the top bunk of a bunk bed under lots of blankets in what we called ‘up the head and down the foot’. Some mornings when we woke up, there would be small icicles hanging from the ceiling over our bed. It sure felt good after the fire was put on and we could feel some heat. In March of that winter, I turned six. I remember my father saying to me, “Oh, it’s your birthday! Watch out, I’m going to catch you and give you your birthday bumps!” I was yelling, trying to keep away from him as he chased me around the house, wrestling me to the floor, tickling me, making me laugh and twirling me around. 23
Lottie Bowering (L-R): Brother Calvin, Cousin Chesley, and the Author sitting on their kromatik
One day toward spring, Calvin and I went down to fish through a crack in the ice. I snuck the big hook from the porch, which our parents didn’t like us to have. We usually used our play hooks, made from a bent coat hanger or a piece of wire. We climbed over the wharf, down to the ice. I think I used a piece of salt pork for bait. Suddenly, I felt a heavy tug on the hook and started to yank it up. As fast as I could, I pulled up the line and pulled a large fish onto the ice. It seemed so big, flopping around on the ice, that it frightened me. I started to stomp on the head of the fish. Stomp, stomp with my little feet until the fish stopped flopping around and lay still. I rolled the hook and line back onto the stick and said, “Dickie, (my nickname for him) quick, put the hook back in the porch before mom and dad find out.” Back to the house we went with the big fish. It happened to be Good Friday and we had a delicious meal of fresh cod for dinner! I have a feeling that they knew I had the hook and they had been watching all along to make sure we were safe. Brother George was born that May. The closest hospital was the Grenfell Mission hospital in Cartwright, but most babies were born at home 26
with a relative or community midwife helping. Aunt Joan was visiting at the time. She woke us up in the middle of the night and took us next door to Aunt Millâ€™s. I remember sitting in the chair, falling asleep, waiting to go home again. In the dark I could see the lumpy outline of men on the floor in sleeping bags. My father finally came for us. We went home to meet our brand new brother, Elias George. We took a look at him and were soon tucked into our cosy beds again. Many things have changed since that year. The room has not been in business for a long time now. Inshore fisheries do not exist. The families from Seal Islands were relocated to Charlottetown and Cartwright when the Newfoundland government imposed the resettlement program in 1965. As for me, it turns out I prefer living in a warmer place in an exciting big city as far south as I can get in Canada. Now, sixty-five years later, when I see pictures of the old buildings at the room starting to lean over and fall down, I feel profoundly sad. However, my happy memories of Frenchmanâ€™s Island will always exist.
About the Author Lottie (Charlotte) Bowering has lived in beautiful central Scarborough since 1985. She attributes her love of reading and writing to growing up in Labrador where music, singing, joking, bantering, storytelling, and yarning was a way of life. She thoroughly enjoys sharing her writing with a dedicated, creative, wonderful seniors group.
A Touch of Dutch Mario Dimain
The narrow streets, the cobblestones, and the sidewalk patios looked strikingly familiar. The French posters on store windows could have easily fooled me into believing I was in Quebec City, but the souvenir items priced in Euros were screaming otherwise. I was in beautiful southern France, in the region of Provence, in the old town of Arles. It was a nice bright day in June. The warm weather couldnâ€™t be more ideal. With my two cameras both powered up, it was a perfect time for travel photography. The deep yellow sunflowers backlit by the morning sun were flirting with the breeze. The beautiful architecture sculpted by flattering shadows accentuated the distinctive old character of the town. The lazy stroll felt like walking into 29
a framed oil painting of a European scene. My trigger-happy finger went crazy. Left and right, I was shooting pictures from every angle; alternating from video to stills. I was totally tuned out of the tour guideâ€™s boring lecture. My wife was constantly looking back, checking to see if I was still with the group. Earlier that day, we left our cruise ship docked at the harbour of Marseille, and we joined an excursion to the historical places that helped immortalize Vincent van Gogh, the most renowned figure who ever lived in Arles. In the weeks prior to the pre-arranged day trip, I had been reading articles and watching documentary videos about the life and times of the legendary Dutch painter. As I dug into this information, I realized how little I knew about the artist and his paintings. Vincent van Gogh was more monumental than I thought he was. The new things I learned propelled my desire to visit Arles. I was truly drawn into the fascinating world of this often-misunderstood man. Out of over 900 paintings in the short span of his career as an artist, van Gogh was lucky enough to sell one. Strange. I wondered why. Could it be that the art aficionados in those days were not 30
ready to embrace his vision? There could be more underlying reasons and logical answers, but one thing is clear, van Gogh’s swirling brush strokes, wicked perspectives, and blinding vibrant colours were way ahead of his time. In the two years that Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles, this prolific artist produced 187 paintings depicting the town. Arles is now synonymous to many of van Gogh’s paintings. Among them is the famous Café Terrace at Night and Garden of the Hospital in Arles. Being at those two locations, in the same spots where van Gogh’s easel once stood, were experiences I will always remember. The rare opportunity to see from his vantage point was more rewarding than just reading the articles written about him, more exciting than how actor Kirk Douglas portrayed him in the movie Lust for Life, and far more compelling than listening to Don Maclean’s recording of the poignant song, Vincent. On the Place du Forum, where Café Terrace at Night was painted, I was in total awe. The narrow street, the yellow awning, and the buildings were like a dream. They resembled the morning-after of the night in September 1888. Wherever I turned, 31
the spirit of the great artist was overwhelming me. I could feel van Goghâ€™s passion. I could see the colours of his mind. I wondered, what was he thinking? Was he really insane? No one can be certain, but in my own calculated guess, I am likely to say, â€œPerhaps, he was simply a sensitive man whose vision was far wider than he could grasp. By letting his imagination float free and dance with the motion of his brush, he had a better understanding of his ever eluding self.â€? The hospital in Arles where van Gogh was confined (after allegedly cutting off his left earlobe) is now named Espace van Gogh; it houses the town library and functions as exhibition spaces. The sense of connection to van Gogh intensified when I entered the courtyard. The surrounding yellow arches are still there as painted by van Gogh. The radiating paths from the circular pond are remarkably preserved. Other than the trees that are so much bigger, the landscaping of the garden has retained its famous character. It was here at the garden where I was taken by mixed emotions: admiration, sadness, and pity. I was deeply touched by this poor Dutch painter who believed that he was a complete failure up to his 32
last breath. How would he have known that his life and art would be the subject of songwriters, art teachers, and movie producers? Little did he know that his Post-Impressionist paintings would highly influence 20th century art. No one in his life could have given him a shred of a hint that his name would be as famous as Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci. Sadly, everyone in that era was just as in the dark as he was. I couldnâ€™t shake the thought of van Gogh as we sailed away to the last port of our ten-day Mediterranean cruise. My wife and I got off in the city of Barcelona where we stayed for three days to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary before flying back to Canada. Of all the cities and towns in Europe that we visited, Arles is the place that rings the loudest. The ghost of the Dutch painter who once lived there had touched my inner soul. Vincent van Gogh may have been mentally off-centred, but all the works he left behind reflect his gentleness and the caring person he was. His passion to paint the world around him as his heart saw it made me admire the man even more. His spirit infused me with overflowing inspiration to pick up the brushes that I have abandoned for too long. 33
The man re-ignited my passion to paint. I have chosen a few digital photos from my shots of Arles that I would like to translate into acrylic and watercolour paintings. The most ambitious one is the courtyard of Espace van Gogh, which he painted in July 1889. I will not attempt to copy van Goghâ€™s signature vibrant colours and brush strokes as many other artists have done. To me, there is only one van Gogh. My version will be presented from another angle of the garden. Distinctively different, it will pale in comparison to his, but it will be my own way of quantum leaping back to July 1889. My painting of Garden of the Hospital in Arles will be completed soon, not in Arles, France but in Scarborough; painted in Canada as my personal tribute to the Dutch Master 188 years later.
Mario Dimain Above the Rest
About the Author Mario Dimain lives in Port Union, Scarborough. He is a writer, photographer, and visual artist. His deep appreciation of nature and cultures of the world is evident in his creative pieces. Mario has a penchant for events and storytelling. Through his writings and short videos, Marioâ€™s narratives have been published in books and periodicals and posted online. Likewise, his visual art pieces have earned recognition and have been included in juried group art exhibitions.
My Favourite Nursing Experiences Gloria Easton Dedicated to all my nursing instructors, colleagues, and patients. Please note, the names of people have been changed with the exception of Margaret Wagner.
What stands out in my nursing experience is not an event of life saving or a feat of technical expertise. The following accounts brought me self-confidence, a continued spirituality, and creativity via humour. “Nursing is what you make of it for yourself, as much as what your healing hands do. It is an art as well as a profession,” said Mrs. Margaret Wagner, my nursing arts instructor. On the third day of my three-month paediatric practicum, I was horrified to hear the supervisor Sister Rita and the head nurse Annette gossip about the students in French. “That Miss Yankovich, I don’t know what to 37
make of her,” said Sister. “Oui,” said Annette. That was me they spoke about! I did not let on that I understood every word. I was assigned to a ward of eight children. One day, while bathing a seven-year-old before surgery, I noticed a louse crawling on his forehead. I pinched it with a tissue and pulled up the bedsides. I walked quickly to the nurses’ station, showing the opened tissue to Sister and Annette I said, “Jean has pediculi.” “Seigneur!” said Sister, “Cancel the OR, Annette! Does it take a student nurse to discover this, Annette?” asked Sister brusquely, en Français. “Miss Yankovich, take this bottle and treat Jean’s head and hair. Do the same with all the others. Follow with a shampoo,” said Sister. The day was spent with nurses treating heads and disinfecting beds, utensils, floors. All linen was changed. I had the “treatment” too! (Just to be sure!). I received a new respect from Sister and Annette, albeit grudgingly. They asked me to work on their floor after graduation. I said no, but thanked them for the experiences, en Français! I can still see their surprised faces. 38
*** It was a cold winter’s night. I trudged through the blowing drifts, snowed-up to my nose, to the Kirkland District Hospital. Night duty was macabre. As I walked down the halls with my flashlight, I jabbed the jumping shadows of the nurses’ skirts on the wall. It was a guilty pleasure. I was entertained by snores, shrieks, occasional yelling, odorous escaping gases, and moans. On this night, I could hear weeping behind one door. I opened the door furtively and saw tears spilling from a patient’s eyes. “Whatever is the matter, Mr. McCarthy?” I asked as I checked his chart. “I’m dying. I’ve hurt so many people whose names I don’t remember but whose faces I do,” he revealed. “Do you want to talk to a priest or pastor?” I asked. “No,” he answered. “I’m a non-believer.” I shut the door and sat by his bed. The flashlight was on my lap and its ray lit a white circle on the bed spread. “I have a visiting mother-in-law whom I 39
want to send to Hades for interfering in my child-raising beliefs,” I said. “Oh, yeah?” he asked, trying to hide his smile. “Okay, I’ll tell you what, Mr. McCarthy, let’s hold hands. We’ll ask the universe to give us strength in its own way,” I replied. After 10 minutes, I took my hand away from his gently. We both felt at peace. I called by his room at shift’s end to wish him a good day. It was my final goodbye, unbeknownst to me. At report the following night, the charge nurse said Mr. McCarthy had a “better day” but had died peacefully at 8 PM. I blinked back tears. I said a silent prayer wishing my patient an eternity of peace. Ours was a spiritual bond—a bond that stays with me. *** I enjoyed evening shifts at Queensway General Hospital. In getting away from the house for a few hours, I found a pleasant and profitable break. One evening, I discovered one of my patients red-faced and anxious. Mr. Curtis was recovering from a cardiac arrest. I took his pulse; it was racing at 96 beats per minute. 40
“My wife is coming again tonight with all her complaints of the kids, the housework and the extra work,” he said all at once. After a few minutes, I said, “I have an idea. It has to be our secret or we’re in trouble,” I added. We hatched a plan and shook hands. At 7 PM, Mrs. Curtis arrived and kissed her husband. I left the room and returned with carefully covered and menacing-looking enema treatment tray. “Why can’t you do that after visiting hours, nurse?” asked Mrs. Curtis. “All the toilets will be busy,” I answered. “Oh, all right, I’ll go home. Do you need anything, Harry?” she asked. “Yes, bring my headphones, the Mozart tapes, and the portable player,” said Mr. Curtis. “We waited a few minutes until we were sure Mrs. Curtis had gone I took away the enema treatment tray. “I won’t be here tomorrow,” I said. “You’re on your own.” “When my wife starts to complain, I’ll tune her out with my headphones,” said Mr. Curtis, winking at me. “I hope you heal well,” I said. “Make sure 41
you’re strong before leaving.” “Thanks, Mrs. Easton,” he said. We both smiled. *** Because of these experiences, I became more trusting of myself, more devoted to my faith, and more imaginative in my career and life choices. Nursing was a rollercoaster ride, and I enjoyed every minute.
About the Author Gloria Ann Easton is a true daughter of the North from Schumacher, Ontario. Her Montenegrin father and Ukrainian-Canadian mother championed her to ‘master’ English. She enjoyed learning French in high school. Discovering her artistic side, Gloria won art contests and had pen pals. As a registered nurse with a BSc., Gloria enjoyed many years as a public health nurse. This is Gloria’s second anthology in which she has participated.
Gloria Easton Chanelling Jane Austen
Between The Rails Dennis Foyle
It was evening on a moonless night in the summer of 1950. The fruit trees were heavy with fruit as four boys, all 14 years old, were out searching for mischief and scrumping. They were in the fourth and final year at Alperton Secondary Modern School. The school was far from modern and was the lowest rung on the education ladder after attending Primary School. At eleven years old, they had sat the â€œEleven plus examâ€?: the top 20 per cent went to Grammar School. The rest attended Secondary Modern Schools for four years of basic education, leaving at 15 years old to work in factories, on farms, at construction, and general labour jobs, joining the working classes and toiling for 45 hours a week for hourly wages. Alperton School was rough. Discipline consisted of harsh corporal punishment for the 44
slightest misbehaviour: the cane; thumping in the back or head; calf slapping, which was the female teacherâ€™s favourite; and violent shaking, usually by one hand on the shoulder. One-third of the pupils came from a Council Estate on the opposite side of Ealing Road to the school; half came from private houses on the schoolâ€™s side of Ealing Road; and the rest came from other homes in the area. Many of the pupils came from broken homes. In the three years the four boys had attended the school, there had been a murder when a thirteenyear-old boy had pushed a four-year-old into a drainage ditch after a heavy rainfall and the child drowned. Two boys trying to break into a factory had fallen through a glass skylight, suffering broken bones and bad lacerations from glass shards. There were three cases of arson, multiple break and enters, and a fourth-year pupil, 15 years old, had stolen a Jaguar and driven to Liverpool, 240 miles away, before the police caught him. A few pupils were sentenced to Borstal (Reform School), but luckily not any of the four boys. This particular dark night, the boys crossed the Harrow Road and went into Barham Park. At this time of the year, the gates closed at dusk, which was usually around seven-thirty. The railings 45
around the park were taken for scrap metal in 1940 for the war effort. The boys walked in, keeping a look out for Parky. He usually patrolled close to his office to the left of the manor house, near the rock garden and ornamental ponds, and he preferred to spy on courting couples rather than chase kids he could never catch. The boys walked across the field where the annual Circus and Fun Fair were held. These events presented many opportunities for mischief, like crawling under tent walls to get into the circus or sideshow attractions. There were still bizarre sideshows: sixlegged sheep, bearded ladies, and a boxing booth where the champion took on all comers from the crowd. At the back of the big top were the cages for the circus animals. At the Circus and Fun Fair the boys were usually chased by carneys who swore at them, punched them in the back, gave them a swift kick in the pants, or a slap or three at the back of the head. At this hour, the field was deserted. The boys walked across the field between rows of trees to the five-bar wooden fence along the railway embankment. After climbing the fence, they checked both ways for trains before crossing the single-line track and scurrying down the 46
embankment and over the fence to the first garden they came to. The boys checked the produce in the garden: apples, pears, blackberries, and rows of carrots, onions, beetroots, and cabbages all in the back half. Nearer the house, there was a small lawn and flowerbeds. They checked out apples and pears by taking a bite. If he didn’t like it, he threw it at another boy. When they found something they did like, they filled their bags and pockets and climbed over to the next garden. If they found something tastier, they emptied their loot and filled up with the latest discovery. One of the boys pulled a carrot out of the soil, wiped the earth off on the damp grass, rubbed it on his sleeve, and took a couple of bites before throwing it at another boy. Steam trains passed while they were in the gardens. The newspapers had reported recently that a man had fallen from a station platform as a train came in and died trying to scramble back on the platform. The report said if he had lain between the tracks, he would have survived. Now as they headed up the embankment one boy said, “If a train comes along and you’re on the tracks, lie flat between the rails and it will pass over you safely.” After crouching close to the tracks and 47
watching a couple of trains go by, one boy said he was going to do it: lie between the tracks and let the train go over him. A train would include the steam engine, four or five carriages, and the guards van. Another boy said he would join him. If the boys on the track were killed, it was agreed the other two would just leave them and go home. As the next train was coming, the two brave or foolish boys prepared themselves: they turned up their collars and pulled their jackets over their heads. One boy went to lie down on the tracks, but the other said he wasnâ€™t ready, and they both chickened out. It was getting lateâ€”9 PM; they had to be home by 9:30 PM. The four boys heard the church clock chime the first quarter. If the two were going to do it, theyâ€™d have to lie down in front of the next train. They practised lying on the tracks with their heads about 18 inches apart, and their legs and bodies pointing in opposite directions. The train was coming. They lay down. They could hear the rails singing louder as the train got closer. Then the engine passed over them. Both boys felt the heat of the firebox as it passed; both saw the red-hot glow of the fire as a puff of oily steam engulfed them. The engine, the carriages, and at 48
last the guards van passed and the train was gone. The rails continued to sing, but the song faded as the train steamed away. When it was clear, they checked the track, jumped up, and brushed the dust and ashes off their clothes. They had done it. They scrambled down the embankment, picked up their stash of fruit, and started back across the field to Harrow Road. By the time they reached it, they had second thoughts about telling people. If they told any of their friends, the story would get around the school. The teachers would hear about it, then the Headmaster who would give them six of the best at least. Most likely, he would call the Metropolitan Police who would call the Railway Police. Their parents would get a summons, and the boys may finish up in court or, in the worst case, Borstal. Nobody had seen them in the gardens. A dog barked, but nobody in the houses paid attention. It was so dark, not one train driver had sounded his steam whistle. The Parky hadnâ€™t seen them either since he hadnâ€™t blown his whistle or chased them. He was probably too busy spying on courting couples. The boys had to be home in a few minutes 49
before the clock chimed the half hour. As the four boys parted, they decided nobody could be told what they had done. When they arrived home their mothers asked them what they had been doing they all answered the same. “Playing and scrumping”. “Look at you,” their mothers said. “You’re filthy.” “I’ve got some apples and pears,” the boys said. “They’re on the kitchen table.” “Brush your jacket and shorts for school,” their mothers said, “scrub your hands and knees, wash your face and neck, clean your teeth and put on your pjs. Lock the back door and go to bed.” Each of them kissed his mother good night, said goodnight to his father, and went upstairs to bed. The last thought in each their minds before they drifted off to sleep was that nobody must know what happened tonight, between the rails.
About the Author Dennis Foyle is an 80 year old writer who began writing in 2013 after attending a Scarborough Arts writing seminar. After the fourmonth seminar ended, a group kept meeting informally for two hours a week and have been doing so ever since. 50
Life Teresa Hall
Hang on to life with all your might, donâ€™t let go, hold on tight so you can see the dew drops fall upon a fuchsia painted flower and sense the scent as do the wandering honey bees who grace the silky depths. Oh, to view again the indigo rim of planet Earth and feel the shining warmth of sun-filled rays which rise each day, then splash amidst the oceans turquoise tinted fringe where starfish gaze and porpoise play and hear the whir of multicoloured hummingbirds and snowy egrets wings! Ah, to feel all these and sand beneath your feet, a hand in yours, sweet kisses on your face and lips. What more reason for life than this?
Teresa Hall Summer
About the Author Teresa Hall is a long time resident of the scenic Scarborough Bluff area, which has often given her inspiration for her poetry. She’s also written short stories, non-fiction, and children’s stories. Many of her poems have been published in various anthologies and in Canadian Stories Magazine, which published one of her short stories and a humerous anecdote. She’s always enjoyed writing and has recently discovered she is more creative now than ever before.
Dear Friends — Carol and Rosalie Joyce Hayes
You come across the sea to honour me on my birthday and I truly thank you for this. We have been friends for a very long time, and I am like a long lost sister who moved too far away and missed you and yours terribly. We know each other’s histories – both the good times and the not so good. Somehow, we’ve stayed in touch through all these years. We’ve celebrated the victories and supported each other through all our losses. I thank the wonderful Divine that brought us 3 together 55
some 50 years ago. But I wonder how we got to this age so quickly? Where did the time go, how did it fly by so fast? So now, I wish for you both to stay as young and beautiful in body and spirit as when we first met. May God bless you both. And may your angels take care of you – always. Much love – Joyce Penned in Scarborough, Ont. Jan. 2014. P.S. 2 ¾ years later and we’re still holding strong!
About the Author Joyce Hayes moved to Park Street, Scarborough when she was four years old and still resides there. She attended J.A. Leslie Public School and R.H. King C.I. In her twenties, she lived in Cardiff, South Wales. She’s travelled extensively in Europe, South American, Cuba, Mexico and Japan. She worked at Ryerson and later O.I.S.E. for 23 years. She enjoys travelling and gardening and writes weekly at the Kennedy/Eglinton Library with inspirational colleagues.
Lost on the TTC David Hobberlin
By the by! What language am I talking here? Like, I prefer lots of noise in mine. You know! The T.V. set blaring even as I dine. To be out of touch is to feel so queer. You know! Those announcements on the subway line? Telling you where to stand and how to be A good patron. Helpful hints most assuredly. And all those flashing ads on the computerized sign. What more can you ask for from this voice of technology? Well, the other day, I forgot my P.I.N., so the machine wouldnâ€™t come. So I couldnâ€™t buy a ticket, and nobody wanted to know me. 57
I even misplaced my cell phone, so I couldn’t dial for assistance. Like, my heart became a bit sweaty with me-self Dropping out of the mainframe like that for an instance.
David Hobberlin David Hobberlin was born in Toronto and began writing poetry as a teenager. Since that time, a number of his poems have been published beginning with the anthology Canadian Poets of 1969. In 2000, the Indian Heritage Council of Morriston, Tennessee published his chapbook The Pipe Maker and Other Poems. In 2012, the poem “On The Waterfront of Toronto” earned the inaugural Monica Ladell Award presented by the Scarborough Arts Society.
Retirement, howâ€™s that going for you? Wendy Hooker
Not as I expected. I naively thought that I was prepared. Iâ€™d attended retirement workshops, talked to retired colleagues, and read magazines and books focusing on retirement objectives. Iâ€™d confirmed my general health, updated my will and POA, and completed all the paperwork for my RRSPs. Finally, I chose my retirement date and forwarded all the necessary documents for transitioning from my employer to the appropriate agencies for my pension, health benefits and insurance. No golfing, cruising, or gambolling on pristine beaches for me! I intended to focus on my artist practice and expand my interests and fascination for lifelong learning. Instead, I was immediately confronted by a tsunami of unexpected challenges. 59
Suddenly, as a senior and only-child, I was addressing my mother’s accelerating advanced dementia. She was a former Director of Human Resources and Finances for Atkinson College, York University. It was emotionally upsetting to see this extraordinarily articulate and talented woman, so intellectually and physically reduced! I became immersed in seeking her Long Term Care. It was an excruciatingly painful, exhausting, and frustrating experience since the services and residential needs exceeded availability. Our two adult daughters, like many young people, couldn’t obtain secure salaried employment despite their diverse diplomas. “Precarious employment met with minimum wages” describes their situations. One daughter is a single mother of our grandson with special needs. We’ve been emotionally and financially supporting all three. It is truly disillusioning when your trusted values start to vanish. The adage of “Earn a good education to achieve a good job” seems to no longer apply. Finally, my husband was unexpectedly laid off despite his collection of specialized degrees, exemplary credentials, and experience. His 60
computer, cell phone, and office keys were surrendered. He was brusquely escorted to his car. His career was terminated. There was no pension, no benefit package. Sadly, we discovered the limited employment opportunities for mature applicants. However, my husband is an optimist and my touchstone in life no matter the problem. Together we have been addressing the challenges of our new life and have learned some valuable lessons. Retirement is not a solitary experience; it is an experience shared with family and close friends. We know that as we age, weâ€™ll encounter increasing health issues and gradually our family and friends will move away or pass. We no longer rely on our former vocations as our essential identities and purpose. As seniors, we have accumulated considerable wisdom and perspective untethered from an employed regimen. We are learning to shrug off the assumed value of our senior lives superficially and subjectively imposed by a younger generation. Despite the initial challenges of my retirement experience, I choose to pursue 61
Wendy Hooker Tribute to Marguerite
satisfaction in my daily life. Iâ€™m creating my own evolving identity. I embrace our Canadian sesquicentennial year of 2017! It will be a year of celebration and reflection whereby I intend to expand my knowledge of my Canadian culture alongside my own personal growth. There is no certainty or clarity in any stage of life, including retirement; however, I do believe that there is always hope.
About the Author Since 1975, Wendy Hooker and her husband have been Scarborough Bluffs residents. She worked for over 41 years as a secondary school Art and English teacher, as well as an administrator. Wendy volunteered several summers with her students to teach, to serve, and to build classrooms in Tanzania, Mexico, and Kenya. With her Neil McNeil colleagues, she initiated the Freshman 40 Community Service and Grade 10 to 12 Student Volunteer Engagement. She volunteers with diverse communities and is a member of Scarborough Arts, Scarborough RTO and RWTO retired teacher groups, CARP and Probus-Guildwood. Shifting from hazardous techniques like intaglio printmaking, she is experimenting with watercolour printmaking and other experimental media and writing.
语言 Languages Haiqing Hua (Oliver)
在语言和语言之间 Between this language and that language 我迷失了 I got lost 这不一定必须是那个字 It is not necessary, the word 我必须找到那个字 I must find that word 那个字很重要 That word is very important 我不能把它丢了 I cannot afford to have lost it 他们在交谈 They are talking 我知道，他们并不知道他们在谈些什么 I know, they actually don’t know what they are talking about 64
但是，我听得到 However, I can hear 一些声音 Some sounds 也许不是语言 Maybe not the language 我们可以懂得的 We may understand 就是这些东西 Just this 让我痴迷 Amazes me 一些字，掉在地上 Some words, dropped onto the ground 我知道他们的意思 I know what they mean 但是我不敢说 But I dare not to say 就这些吧 This is it for now 其实我可以继续说下去的 Actually, I can continue to talk like this 我有许多的话要说 I have a lot to say 但是，我困了 65
However, I am sleepy ć™šĺŽ‰ Good night
About the Author Haiqing Hua (Oliver) published hundreds of poems, prose pieces, and essays in China prior to 1989. His works were selected in the famous 1986 Chinese Poetry Exhibition as one of the third generation poets in China at that time. Oliver believes that his writing experience in both Chinese and English can help people of both cultural backgrounds to better understand each other.
February Rules Joan Kehoe
Cloudless pale blue sky quiet behind the curtain of black lace trees White marshmallow puffed garden a playground for squirrels as they bounce and slither As if it was an edgeless rolling trampoline Agile bodies leap and race up trees tangling with white smoke that meanders from rooftop chimneys February rules We bundle up in layers and shudder at the power of cold But squirrels laugh For them no joy on hold 67
About the Author Joan Kehoe has lived in Scarborough since her family immigrated to Canada from England in 1948. She is a retired kindergarten teacher/ consultant. A widow, she is a proud mom and granma. She has been writing and publishing poetry for over fifty years, receiving three awards. Her first book of poetry was published in 2014; she is busy compiling a second book. Her other passion is singing, which has been a lifelong involvement. She currently sings with the talented Serenata Singers!
The Old Library Denise Kemp
I could hardly believe the news! My best friend Wendy called me, in Johannesburg, on the phone. “I’ve been battling to reach you, Denise, there was a rainstorm on Tuesday and the library was flooded!” With Wendy’s urgent message still ringing in my head, the same night, I boarded a plane to Cape Town. The next morning, I wake up with the rising of the sun. I have some breakfast and then race over to the stately Cape Dutch style building with its grand, ornately rounded gables. The library is situated on the slopes of Table Mountain. It’s a clear day, so the revered mountain isn’t wearing her famous “table cloth”. I implore the security guard to allow me to take a look around. With an awkward grin, he says he recognizes me. He unlocks the door for me and warns me to be careful. 69
I walk around the old library, saddened to see the damage caused by the flood. I sigh and think, “She was just too old to weather the storm… just too old…” The carpets, having all been torn up, reveal the tarnished wooden floors. A golden stream of sunlight pours through the windows, and I wish it would chase away the ghosts of gloom surrounding me. I search the shelves for the books from the days of my youth. The musty smell of the library books is just the way I remember it. I feel a stirring deep inside, recalling the early years. I find a copy of Jack London’s The Call of the Wild and I smile. The story spoke to my own yearning when I read it as a child. When I find a copy of A Separate Peace, I trace the spine of the book with my fingers. When I was a teenager, I strongly identified with one of the characters; to his darker side, I have to admit. The wooden floors creak beneath my careful feet. I spot a copy of Anne of Green Gables, and I giggle as I think of that feisty redhead. I read a few paragraphs. After a while, I put the book down and grab an edition of Aesop’s Fables. My mind wanders, and I wonder what has become of child detective Nancy Drew. I think 70
of my brothers and sisters and search for the book Five Little Peppers and how they grew. I hold the book close to my heart. I close my eyes each time I take a book off the shelf. I breathe in the scent of each one and gently touch the yellowed pages. I see the wooden oak table in the east corner where Wendy and I used to sit. It was our favourite quiet place to study and read and chat about our dreams. “I would like to move away from Cape Town when I’m older,” she declared one day. “Somewhere where the wind doesn’t blow rather…” Cape Town is renowned for its beautiful temperate weather, but it was once known as “The Cape of Storms” due to the strong south eastern winds. I had been dismayed at the thought of my dear friend ever leaving the Cape. And, back then I believed I would always stay in my hometown. Even now, Wendy has never moved away from Cape Town. When I’d completed my studies, my job as a journalist took me to many places around South Africa and the world. Once I started, I just had to keep on running. I hear a voice in my head again. We’re sitting in the library, on another day, reading one of the 71
books from The Famous Five series. “Don’t call me Wendy; I want to be known as Georgina like the tomboy from The Famous Five!” she said. Wendy informed our other classmates at school too and soon she became Georgina in our circle. She was such a vibrant, cheerful person; I have her to thank for drawing me out of my shell and for helping me lighten up in those insecure years. The memories swirl around and around in my head. I have trod this lonely path for so many years. My first visit to the library was with my mother—the sweetest woman who had ever lived. My footsteps always faltered in new places and among new faces. I was so painfully shy. She was right beside me while I turned the pages of the board books. I will never forget that feeling of wonder as my eyes burned in the pictures and devoured the words. The pretty librarian always smiled when she walked past the shy little girl and the sweetest woman in the world. I wish my mother and father were still alive. Soon, the books and other library materials will be taken off the shelves. Then the bulldozers will come and tear down this old library, which was such a monumental part of my childhood. 72
I feel the joy and pain from the stories I have read; they roar through me like a raging river. I’ve always adored the old and the familiar. The escapism I derived from reading and tapping into my imagination has always been my salvation. When a cool breeze suddenly drifts through a broken windowpane, I have sobering thoughts of how the world would be without libraries. The wind picks up and groans in despair. I feel its pain. I wistfully frown as I pace the library aisles in my hometown. The security guard comes over to ask me if I’m okay. He touches me reassuringly on my shoulder. Suddenly the dam bursts and my tears cannot be contained anymore. I run out the door. When I turn around, I see he is wiping away a tear. I wave goodbye to the kindly old gentleman; I wave goodbye to the ill-fated old library, to the childhood memories, to my deceased parents, to the pretty librarian from yesteryear, to the old books, and to little footsteps, which had found a place to be free. Fifteen years later, I reside in Toronto, Canada. The weather is severe and the icy cold winters are merciless. The changing of the seasons is dramatic and absolutely awe inspiring. It makes me write—the changing of the seasons. 73
Denise Kemp The Reminiscence
Joyously, I walk around one of the branches of the Toronto Public Library. I catch the lovely librarian’s eye and she gives me a smile. Today I’m not here as a patron but in a new capacity. You see, like the seasons, life comes full circle. A little over five decades ago I was a five-yearold, filled with wonder, on my first library visit. Now, in the later stages of my earthly journey, I’m a wide-eyed library employee. The library system of checking books in and out has been modernised; everything is much quicker now. To me, the books don’t quite smell the way I remember, but I pretend they do. I pretend their scent is the same as it was back at the old library in Cape Town. It’s shocking that there are libraries in Canada slated to shut down soon. I feel a pang in my heart. As I go about my day at the library, I say a little prayer to angels: Please don’t let our welcoming second homes disappear. Please don’t ever allow these great knowledge repositories of books become a thing of the past. May we always have this refuge where our imaginations can don a pair of wings and fly! I miss beautiful, sunny South Africa and my family and friends there. I yearn for the life I’ve lived and the life I have yet to live. I yearn for 76
the known and the unknown. I yearn for the old library, which had stood so proud on the slopes of Table Mountain. I sometimes wonder what I would be without my yearning. Mostly I wonder and worry, what will become of you and me without libraries?
About the Author Denise Kemp immigrated to Canada in 2012. She took a short writing course later that same year and began entering writing contests. She works for the Toronto Public Library and loves her job. Itâ€™s her big dream to have her own book of short stories and poetry published.
Laila in Spring Mohammad H Khan
Laila, I can smell your shalwar before the shining outburst of the morningâ€™s sun â€“ smell upon smell seducing Mohammad with unique enticing fragrance of Sudan flooding the noble one in a new day of exhilarating submission! And I come to you like the first coming like Adam comes to Eve in the flowering Garden of Canada 78
flow upon flow as love songs awaken our deep desires of touching and meeting in ecstasies of sweetness! I surrender the wholeness of my being underneath the hem of your swaying multi-coloured sweet smelling shalwar I am lost in the depth of your lotus eyes filling my loins with goodness and beauty traversing my world and my universe! Twilight awaits for us in a mystic exotic fashion like Mohammad awaits for gorgeous Laila in the waiting silence of time replete with love songs 79
song upon song and love upon love not forgetting the scapula of love shouldering the blessed sweetness of the universe!
About the Author Mohammad H Khan is a self-published writer originally from Guyana in South America. Mohammad has been a proud Canadian for over thirty years and has been writing since he was old enough to pick up a feather and ink pen. Laila in Spring was inspired by his spouse Laila during a very special time last summer. Itâ€™s designed to purvey the message of love, togetherness and overall oneness.
Radio Silence Hector King Jr.
Toronto, Ontario, 1980. I awoke at approximately 2:30 AM. I was about to listen to some music on the local radio station when a song ended and nothing happened. “I think they’ll fix that quick and the next song will begin soon.” I waited for about an hour. I was wondering—were they sleeping or was nobody is there? Thunder Bay, Ontario, 1982. I awoke at approximately 2:30 AM. I was about to listen to some music on the local radio station when the record seemed to get stuck and kept on repeating the same minute of music. “I think they’ll fix that quick and the next song will begin soon.” I waited for about an hour. I was wondering— were they sleeping or was nobody is there? Vernon, British Columbia, 1990. I awoke 81
Hector King Jr. Radio Silence
at approximately 2:30 AM. I was listening to some music on the local radio station, and as I was singing along, in the middle of the song, it stopped and nothing happened. “I think they’ll fix that quick and the next song will begin soon.” I waited for about an hour. I was wondering— were they sleeping or was nobody is there? Scarborough, Ontario, 2016. I was conversing with an older lady and I told her this. She said, “You are asking the right questions!” She said she knew a DJ and he said to her, “Did you know there is nobody in the radio stations in the night time?”
About the Author Hector King Jr. was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He enjoys singing, reading, writing, and drawing, as well as music, poetry, photography, and videography. Hector has been a president, chairman, representative, and model. He was an extra in a short film Shadow and traveled all over Canada throughout his life. Additionally, Hector was featured in the publication NOTICE THIS IS AN INDIAN RESERVE. In 2015, he moved to Scarborough, Ontario and recently joined a local writing group.
Bringing Brother Home Helen Koski
“I want to dance,” George said as he struggled to rise from his wheelchair. Two volunteers from the rehab unit hoisted him, one under each arm, and partially shuffled him around the floor to Newfoundland music. While returning to his wheelchair, my brother, stricken with Lupus, stated joyfully, “Now I’m going to get better.” And so it was, in 2002; I was summoned from my home in Toronto to St. John’s, Newfoundland to care for him after his four months in hospital. For years, he had walked from his home on Guy St. up the hill to Memorial University, where he taught as a Professor in the Education Department. Shunning the label, “Doctor,” he asked his students to simply call him “George.” His four children had grown, led busy lives, and eventually he divorced. 84
“Life is good,” he would say, as he sat in an old wooden chair, and tended to his lush plants in his much loved garden. Admiring his Sarah Bernhardt peony, or his historic Maids of France in bloom, his ravaged body gained strength. He breathed in the heavy fragrance of his Honeysuckle vine, which leaned over the wooden deck where we dined al fresco. As a Registered Nurse and a sister, I assisted him and marvelled at his metamorphosis. Loving the spirit of Newfoundland, we gradually ventured forth to enjoy our favourite nearby haunts. George re-passed his driving test, we celebrated on Signal Hill and watched the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. At times, we took the ferry to Belle Isle to gather Shale rock for his garden, meander along the towering cliffs, and feast on cod fish and chips. Although my indomitable brother grew stronger each day, I knew in my heart that he could not manage alone. “It’s time to come home,” I said. And thus the house was sold and his goodbyes said while I packed his home. Into five gallon containers went five of his homemade inuksuit, and into beef jerky pails went favourite plants. The house painfully 85
regurgitated its years of memories. After six weeks of preparation, the U-Haul was ready to head to West. George’s misshaped finger curled around the steering wheel, his egg-crate foam cushion was under him, and I, map in hand, was beside him. On that splendid sunny day in August 2002, we pulled out of his driveway. My brother sighed, collected himself, and headed for Argentia and the M.V. Joseph and Clara Smallwood ferry. Two cabins had been reserved, and we laughed to discover these turned out to be two bunk beds along a very long corridor of bunks. Ever the party animal, George went to find the ship’s lounge and East Coast music. And I, after waking at night, stumbled barefoot to the washroom, past dozens of pairs of bare feet dangling from the too short bunks. What a temptation to tickle them! Early morning found us making a beeline for the best seat in the cafeteria to enjoy our crossing of Cabot Strait. My rascal brother said he “wanted to beat the American tourists to the view.” After sixteen hours of sailing, we entered North Sydney harbour. Gliding through Cape Breton and Nova 86
Scotia, on Hwy. 1, we told worn out jokes, sang songs out of key, and recalled our Finnish roots. This lasted until Fredericton and a lobster supper. I massaged George’s curly fingers, and after a few circles around the beast (our U-Haul), we headed for Quebec. Searching for local food, we drove into a village and ordered crêpes in our shameful French. They were exquisitely thin like butterfly wings. Then, refreshed, we passed pretty SaintJean de Port Joli and arrived in Drummondville to sleep and steady our nerves for the drive through Montreal. Our good weather fortune finally ran out. It rained torrents, and in the city traffic we missed our turn. “No problem,” I reassured George, who was white knuckling the wheel, “just keep going.” Miles later, I shouted, “there’s our escape route,” having spotted the OttawaHull sign. No mean feat in rain; he eased into the left lane and turned again West. Quietly now, we traversed Montreal, until finally we crossed the mighty St. Lawrence. We were unable to relive George’s years at McGill University, but we relaxed. Day three, and near the end of a 1250 kilometre journey, we cruised past Cornwall, Kingston, Belleville, and 87
finally into Toronto and my East York driveway. Thanks to our younger brother, the house looked welcoming and only cat Finnigan hissed his disapproval. George stood on the back of the U-Haul, and I snapped a photo. We unloaded the truck. Two days later, George set off alone in a lighter U-Haul to the historic French River— the waterway for Canada’s early explorers. He had paddled these waters in canoes with young campers at the Sudbury Y.M.C.A. Now a very special woman whom he had met at a Canoe Club reunion met him. With her car in the lead, he followed in the U-Haul to Lake Ramsay in Sudbury. His journey through eastern Canada now over, he had returned to the place of his birth to enjoy life with a woman who shared his zest for living. “Life is good,” I would inscribe on his gravestone five years later. About the Author Helen Koski, a retired nurse, is a member of the Scarborough Seniors Writing Group. Her poems and short stories have been published in Finnish Literature, as Connecting Souls, by V. Lindstrom. She enjoys writing about family and everyday Finns. 88
Helen Koski George
Roads to Peace with Poems Lawrence Arthur Kosowan
He walks from the office over the cold hard ground Looking west toward Jesus still kneeling to ask about the cup Where once a vandal had carefully placed a football in His arms. Hair whipping around damp eyes he steps onto the lawn With cold fingers in tight pockets to find Steedâ€™s resting place The bronze plaque turned green beneath the crusted snow. Lightly he lifts his boots above silent sleepers Oblivious with their brief poems Together Forever In Godâ€™s Loving Arms Rest In Peace. He stops and stands alone Shivering in the straight wind.
About the Author Lawrence Arthur Kosowan, born in Toronto Ontario, is a retired Correctional Officer who writes poetry, prose, and lyrics. In 1973 he published a short story titled “The Plague” in the Scarborough Mirror. In 2003 he contributed to Scarborough Writers’ Association Anthology, Scarborough Writes III. He was a volunteer newsletter and yearbook editor in 2005 at the Scarborough Garden and Horticultural Society. Most recently, in 2016 he contributed to Scarborough Scribblers’, Library Reflections: An Anthology.
Birches Anne Leon
Do you remember the snow of â€˜92 When the birches bowed down to the ground And we walked on their tops Weighed down with white snow Stood sadly and heard not a sound? Did you see the wet patch Down on the grass Where no wet patch should be? The sap from the top Where the main branch broke Wept silently for all to see Do you see the new branches in â€˜97 Reaching their way to the sky? New growth has begun The tree carries on And no longer weeps with a sigh 92
Anne Leon Ice Storm
About the Author Many countries have heavily influenced Anne Leonâ€™s work: England, Ghana, New Zealand, the United States, and Ecuador where she married at the age of sixteen. Together, Anne and her husband, a refugee, went to the United States, where their daughter was born. Introduced to clay weeks before leaving New Zealand in 1956, Anne was given the chance to indulge in 1967. In 1968 she set up her studio in Agincourt, Ontario. She has exhibited, taught, and published articles on potters. Additionally, she has won awards in painting, writing, drawing, printmaking, and photographing. Anne has two degrees from the University of Toronto.
Anne Pedro Leon
What matters is the perception Of the sky, the appearance Of the buds, the feeling Of the wind, the rustle Of the trees, the flutter Of the birds, the trusting Of the fox. What matters is the sensation Of a smile, the gesture Of a kiss, the movement Of a thought, the attraction Of a glance, the holding Of a hand.
Pedro Leon Anne
About the Author After studying law in Ecuador, Pedro Leon earned degrees in Literature at Cornell University and became a professor at the University of Toronto in 1968, where he taught for twenty eight years. Upon retirement, he wrote poetry and did painting, printmaking, photography and mixed media. Pedro exhibited and became a member of the Ontario Society of Artists. He self-published a book with fifty poems and his own images. The images began as small paintings, were photographed, then altered in Photoshop. Pedro is currently working on photographed images in Photoshop; some are abstract and others are part reality and part fantasy.
Reunion with my Sister in North Korea Joan Little
During the second week of February 2014, news came through the Red Cross that our family visitation in North Korea was on again. I prayed this time it would happen, not like last September when just three days before departing, North Korean leader, Kim, Jung Un cancelled the meeting, offering no explanation. News that my elder sister, Jung Ae had been alive in North Korea since she had been missing during the war had shocked our family. Her name was on the list requesting to see her family in South Korea. She had returned from the dead. In June of 1950 the North Korean army invaded Seoul, precipitating the Korean war. One August day 1950 my seventeen-year-old sister Jung Ae went to school and never returned home. Unfortunately, in 2014, my elder brother 98
and younger sister in the U.S.A. were unable to join the visitation due to their respective health issues. My younger brother in South Korea would join me. So, on 19th of February, after much rushing, arranging flights and accommodations, and packing, I boarded the plane. During the seventeen-hour flight from Toronto to Seoul, I tried to recall my sister but my memory was fuzzy. Sixty-three years had gone by. Even if I remembered her, it was her seventeen-year-old face. I couldnâ€™t remember her clearly, but the event of her disappearance flooded my memory. Our family had searched and had asked her friends of her whereabouts, but no one knew what had happened to my sister. We noticed that the North Korean soldiers had retreated from Seoul by this time. We waited for her to return home until we were the last family in our neighbourhood to evacuate to south of the Han River in January of 1951. Many years passed and we gave up looking; we assumed that she was dead. My mother always wished that we could find her daughterâ€™s body and bury her. My mother passed away without this closure. 99
On February 20, 2014, as the airplane touched the ground at Inchun airport, I felt a tightening sensation in my chest, the feeling of anticipation of seeing my sister. On the 22nd of February, we departed for the border between South and North Korea where we stayed over night and received instructions on what we were to do and what we were not to do. We were not to give our addresses and phone numbers to North Korean families. Finally, at 7 AM on the 23rd of February, eighteen busesâ€”thirteen for the families, four for the food, and one for reportersâ€”headed into North Korea. My brother and I were given the family ID # 76 and assigned bus # 11. It was a cold but sunny day. Snow was deep in the fields and sun shone blindingly through the bus windows. I wondered how many children and grand children my sister had and if they would resemble our family in North America. Would her husband be alive? Many other questions swirled in my head. How did she end up in North Korea and how did she survive? We had to hand over our cell phones, our religious reading material, and any publication that 100
might offend the North Korean government to the Red Cross officials. When we were passing the demilitarized zone (DMZ), there were two separate stations of armed soldiers, South and North Koreans, on duty. After we passed the DMZ, I noticed the North scenery was in contrast to the South. There were many wire fences. There were no trees or bushes. The place looked very desolate. A group of people walking on the road in the distance were in our view. I couldnâ€™t see any wearing overcoats in the cold, only half jackets. After three hours, we arrived at our hotel. As soon as we checked in, we went to the meeting place. The hall was very large and the tables were numbered to show our family ID numbers. As I entered the hall, my heart began to beat fast and my legs became wobbly. There were paired officials between tables who watched everyoneâ€™s move. Large chandeliers brightened the big room. When the North Korean families started to enter, I felt my mouth get dry and my legs weak from the wobbling. I had to hold on to my brother. I spotted my sister as soon she entered the room. She resembled our mother at 101
the same age, but Jung Ae looked much older than her 81 years, with deep wrinkles and a frail posture. My sister came right to us and held my hand, “Hello Jung Soo, you have the same features as when you were young,” she said. My brother and I held her hands and we cried. She introduced her forty-seven-yearold son, Sae Won, to us. He showed us his few medals and said, “Our great leader Kim, Jung Un is so good to us that he gave us these.” My brother and I didn’t respond. We exchanged our family pictures with my sister who was crying, saying, “I wish I could see them now,” while holding a picture of our parents. Later she said that her husband passed away in 2000. I had prepared to ask many questions of my sister, but I could not ask even one. My brother and I had sensed that her so-called son, could be a government agent, since he pitched propaganda from the minute we met. I also could not detect the tenderness between son and mother. I hoped she might talk to us about her life, but she was quiet all through our meetings except when she talked about her memories of our parents and family members. The two-hour meeting was soon up and we had to leave, but the son asked 102
for our addresses and telephone numbers. I had to invent a reason not to respond. The next afternoon, my sister and Sae Won came to visit us at our hotel for a gift exchange. I presented a sweater to her, which I had finished knitting the night before I left Toronto. It fitted her nicely. I suggested she wear it when she left, but she asked me to put it with other gifts including a quilt and medicines. These were put outside the room to be collected by officials. I realized then that she would not be able to keep any of the gifts for herself. I handed the American money to her, and then she gave it to her son. Sae Won looked inside the envelope and I noticed his face light up as he said, “How generous of you, you give us so much.” I realized that she could not keep the money. I asked my sister to go to washroom with me in order to give her money separately. After grasping the situation, she refused to go with me. I prayed my sister would at least get half of that money, as well as the sweater and the quilt The signal to end the meeting left me frustrated and confused, as I didn’t feel we were together for two hours. Again, Sae won asked our addresses and telephone numbers. I avoided answering him. 103
That evening we had dinner together. My sister talked about her favourite dishes that our mother had cooked and reminisced about family life together before the War. The dinner was soon over and we parted feeling sad that it would be the last dinner we would have together. The next morning we would part, not knowing if or when we could see each other again. I felt tension at every meeting when Sae Won asked for our addresses but each time I managed to decline. At breakfast, we struck up a cheerful conversation in spite of our sadness about our last moments together. With hugs and tears we said our goodbyes and well wishes. We found our sister’s bus window open and she reached out her hand with tears in her eyes. We held each other’s hand and were still saying goodbye while crying as the bus began to move. I ran after the bus as it sped away, calling her, “Unee (Sister), keep well. I pray that God will grant us a reunion again.” Soon the bus disappeared around the corner, and I felt like screaming, “Who caused this separation without knowing when we would hear or see each other again?” On the way back to the South, I was asked 104
to step aside at the North Korean checkpoint. The security staff rechecked my belongings and camera several times while consulting each other. Meanwhile, my heart pounded loudly in my head. Those fifteen minutes of waiting were the longest in my life. I thanked God when I was finally free to leave North Korean soil. Soon I crossed the line to South Korea where I collapsed to the ground and sat for a few minutes. All my strength was sapped out of me. My brother held me up, and we walked toward our waiting bus. Now, sitting at home in Toronto, I feel that that my visit with my beloved sister had been a dream.
About the Author Joan Little, a retired registered nurse, is a member of Scarborough Arts where she was the Member of the Month in May 2015 as a writer. Her short stories have been published in three anthologies through Scarborough Arts with the Scarborough Seniors Writing Group. She enjoys writing about her life experiences and aims to publish her memoir.
Joan Little Unexpected Family Reunion
On the Other Side of the Door David Henry Mazumdar
Itâ€™s morning. Akhil wakes up. He slowly opens his eyes halfway but closes them right away. He does this not because heâ€™s tired. Rather, he is listening for something. After a short while, he opens his eyes again. He looks around. He is quite embarrassed finding himself clothed, lying in a dry bathtub. How weird! He jumps out of the tub. As soon as he runs out of the bathroom, he realizes he is all by himself in the house. Why, then, should he be ashamed of being noticed for sleeping in the bath by anyone? He feels relieved. He goes back into the bathroom where he splashes his face with cold water. He feels much better. The feeling of embarrassment gradually goes away. However, he tries to figure out why he did such a stupid thing, like lay in the bathtub. 108
While wiping his face with a towel, he looks at the mirror and notices his eyes are swollen. He finds his head is aching. He slowly remembers he was very scared last night. Yes, that sound! That scary sound! With a hope to get away from it, he ran into the bathroom, covered his ears with a towel, and took shelter from the noise in the bathtub where he remained. He canâ€™t remember what happened next. He fell asleep in the bathtub. Akhil takes the towel off and carefully inspects the sides of his head. The left side of his head that touched the tub has an impression of the towel. Akhil picks up a comb and does his hair; he notices the image of his bedroom in the mirror. He looks at his bed and thinks, what a mess! He remembers he went to bed last night at some point, but he couldnâ€™t sleep. That sound! That scary sound! It was made over and over again. He covered his ears with a pillow, but that was in vain. As the night progressed, the volume of the sound increased. Out of great fear, he ran into the bathroom and locked the door. At least, the sound was less intense there. Now, Akhil makes his bed, walks into the kitchen, and turns on the coffee machine. On weekdays, he never eats his breakfast at 109
home. He takes a mug of coffee with him, which he sips while he drives to his work. There, he eats his breakfast at work with a second cup of coffee. Akhil lets the coffee brew and goes to change his clothes. As he knots his tie, he notices the birthday card lying beside Sangita’s picture. He bought the card for Sangita. He looks at the card and sighs. After fixing the tie’s knot, Akhil walks into the kitchen with the card. He places the card on the table. He pours the coffee into a mug. He looks at the card again. He bought it along with a painting from an artist in a nearby suburb with the intention of presenting them to Sangita on her birthday. Alas! A mere wish! Akhil sighs again. He senses a kind of bitterness spreading across his face. Sangita! What a strange girl! Very near-sighted! She doesn’t even know how to get along with a person of high ambition. Last night she urged him, “We should get married this year.” Akhil replied, “That’s not possible. You see, I just got a promotion. If I do well in my new position, I’ll get a chance to represent my company in Europe.” Sangita said, “I see your point. Why don’t you see mine?” After a brief pause, she added, “Do you still love me?” 110
It seemed a silly question to Akhil. He thought it would be wise not to associate with such an arrogant girl anymore. He left the place right away. On his way home, he heard the car radio announce a storm was about to hit the city. He rushed into his apartment just before the wind picked up. Akhil enters the living room with his bag and the coffee mug in his hand. He notices the TVâ€™s remote control lying on the floor. There is also a half-emptied teacup beside it. He is habitually not a messy person. He leaves his bag and the coffee mug on the coffee table. He picks up the remote control and puts it beside the TV. Then, he takes up the half-emptied cup, washes it, and puts it on the kitchen shelf. Now he remembers, it all started when he was watching TV last night. He was upset after he left Sangita. He came home, had a shower, and sat on the couch to watch TV when he decided to have a cup of strong black tea. He was watching a horror movie that was very scary. It was close to the climax of the film when Akhil first heard the sound. He lowered the volume, then he heard the sound again. The sound kept on repeating over and over again. Akhil became frightened, 111
turned off the TV, and went to bed. He still could hear the sound from his bed. Out of fear, he rushed into the bathroom and took shelter there. After putting the teacup on the shelf, Akhil puts on his shoes. He returns to the living room and picks up his bag and the coffee mug. He moves towards the door and looks for the door key on the key board. He can’t find it there, so he checks his pockets. He finds his car key, but he wonders where the door key has gone? Did he take it into the bedroom last night? He decides to check there. As he steps towards the bedroom, he hears the sound again. It isn’t as loud as it was the night before. It seems as though someone is knocking on the door. After a few knocks, there is silence. When Akhil heard the knocks last night, he asked so many times, “Who is it?” but there was no answer. After a while, there are knocks again. Maybe, the person last night wanted him to open the door. Akhil was very scared. Maybe the person waited for Akhil throughout the night. Now, as Akhil walks to the door, the person at the door hears his footstep and starts knocking again. Akhil gets scared again! He wonders what he should do. He hesitantly goes to the door and asks in a shaky voice, “Who is it?” But no one 112
answers. Akhil starts sweating. He yells, “Please, speak up. Who are you? What do you want? Why have you been knocking on my door all night?” Still, no answer! By asking these questions at a stretch, Akhil has gained a little courage. He takes a deep breath, then, with a sudden pull, he opens the door and asks, “Who are you? What do you ---?” He stutters and turns dumbstruck. He is totally perplexed. There isn’t anyone outside the door. Akhil looks around. Really, there isn’t anyone? Akhil is horrified! Was it a ghost who has disappeared within a wink? The windows on both sides of the hallway are open. A gust of wind blows through the hallway. Suddenly, there are knocks on the door again. Akhil follows the sound and notices his door key is hanging on the door. The key ring is dangling in the wind and causing the knocks on the door. He feels very proud for solving the mystery of the knocking that went on all night. He takes a deep breath of relief and smiles. The smile gradually turns into laughter. Laughing, he locks the door and sets off to his work. While driving, Akhil is thinking about last night. What a strange event! He reacted so 113
stupidly. He had never taken the chance to open the door to find out what was really happening on the other side! Akhil parks his car at work. As he lifts his bag out of the car, the card that he bought for Sangita slides out. He has brought it by mistake. He puts the card in his bag and proceeds to his office. As he enters the office building, Akhil thinks about Sangita. He remembers Sangita saying last night, “You know, mom has been suffering from lung cancer and dad is going to retire next year. Dad wants us marry before something happens to mom, and mom thinks it would be wise if we marry before dad retires.” Akhil leaves the coffee mug on his desk. He picks up the phone and dials a number; before hearing the voice on the other end, he says, “Hello, Sangita!...Gita, listen!…No, no, no, please listen! Yes, of course I did think about it… Yes, exactly. That’s what I’m going to tell you… You stay at home in the evening…Yes, I’ll come directly from my office to pick you up.”
About the Author David Henry Mazumdar was born in Bangladesh. He studied at the University of Dhaka, in Bangladesh, BOKU in Austria, and the University of Toronto in Canada. David has keen interest in short stories and drama. He has been involved in various writersâ€™ groups and, also, in drama groups as an actor, director, and playwright. Davidâ€™s plays have been staged and televised. His short stories have appeared in various literary magazines.
Barry Loved Linda Marilyn McNeil
They had been married nearly 50 years when the A.L.S. that Linda had, made it impossible for Barry to care for her himself at home any longer. It was a cold, Friday afternoon when the ambulance transported Linda to the long-term care facility. Barry was at her side for the journey, as he had been for many years, and as he would be for however much longer they would have together. As soon as she was settled in bed, Barry took up his post at her bedside. The doctors had been very open with Barry that this might get unpleasant down the road, but that they had a good plan to manage Linda’s pain and ensure that she would be comfortable. Barry announced, “We are in this for the long haul,” as he had promised Linda on their wedding day so many 116
years before. Linda just smiled and squeezed Barry’s hand weakly, as the ALS had taken its toll and would only get worse. Barry grinned back. As the months wore on, Barry spent most of his waking hours at Linda’s bedside. Though she could barely whisper, Barry carried on chatting about their children, grandchildren, and the goings-on in their neighbourhood. Later, as the disease progressed, the staff taught Harry how to clear Brenda’s trachea tube, manage her stomach feeding tube, moisten her lips with ice, and empty the urine collector bags. He also sponge bathed her everyday, fixed her hair, and made sure she had a fresh nightie that he personally washed and ironed at home. The following Christmas, Linda spent longer and longer periods of time with her eyes closed. Barry knew she wasn’t sleeping, so he kept up his monologue of the day’s events. The doctors kept their part of the medication and pain management program, and as Linda’s condition worsened, the levels of drugs were increased. Barry’s Christmas gift was a large sheepskin for her to sleep on, to ensure that she didn’t get bedsores. The next Valentine’s Day marked more than a 117
year since Linda had been in the long-term care facility. She was now completely unable to move, except for occasionally opening her eyes. Barry brought her a dozen red roses to celebrate the day. He held one under her nose so that she could appreciate some of the beauty God had placed in that rose for her. Her eyelids fluttered a little and one corner of her mouth moved slightly. Some well-meaning folks wondered if Barry wasn’t tiring himself out since he was spending so much of his day with Linda. Barry’s response was always a hearty laugh followed by, “Where else have I got to go? She’s my girl. I want to be where she is.” Several others asked Barry why he didn’t speak candidly to the doctors about a “little something extra, you know, to hurry things along.” Barry always scowled at that idea and said, “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” That spring, Barry brought carnations from their garden. Linda always loved them, particularly the pink ones. He put them in water, and, as an after thought, clipped a bloom to the neckline of her nightie. He took up his usual spot in the chair at her bedside and proceeded to relate the events of the previous 118
day. Suddenly, the sun slipped behind the clouds and the room dimmed slightly. Barry had an anxious feeling. He stood up at the bedside and took her hand. He started to talk about heaven and how everything that they had been through had brought them closer to each other and to God. He went on to speak of being together for eternity. He saw a small tear appear in the corner of one eye and as the sun broke through the clouds, Linda opened her eyes slightly, looked right at Barry, and closed them again as that one tear rolled down her cheek. No one had to tell him: Barry knew instinctively that Linda had gone. He knew his girl. She wouldn’t go anywhere without telling him, and he supposed that the sun and the cloud and the tear were her way of saying goodbye. Just “goodbye” for now; not for forever. At the funeral, the Minister spoke of their devotion to one another and of their courage, both as individuals and as a couple, about Linda’s ability to just “be” in her illness without burdening Barry. He also spoke about Barry’s ability to see God’s love both within their marriage and beyond. At the reception after, when asked about “dying with dignity”, Barry 119
commented that Linda was dignified right throughout her illness and that neither of them were about to leave the other until God had decided. They had pledged to each other “in sickness and in health” before God fifty years ago; to them, it was a matter of honoring that promise, “till death do us part.” Barry had a bronze plaque placed near the entrance to the cemetery where Linda’s grave was. In her honor, it read: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5: 1-5
About the Author Marilyn McNeil is the daughter of a Naval Officer. Her travels and adventures, coupled with an active imagination, have produced some interesting tales. A retired Insurance Executive, Marilyn has lived in Scarborough for more than 30 years, primarily in the West Hill area. She is a member of Scarborough Scribblers Writing Group and a contributor to their anthology in 2016 and 2017.
Lily Darcy Miller
Look at the robins, Lily Can you see their breast of red? They’re picking at the greening lawns Right outside my window They can smell the springtime, Lily It’s not by chance they come in pairs It’s mating season now Life’s a-flutter in the air Do you hear the chirping, Lily? It’s a sign of things to come Another fertile season with all the best laid plans ahead Just a few short weeks now, Lily You’ll be tall enough by then To spy the baby chicks as they emerge and then Once the spring is over the robins fly on high By then you’ll be full grown, Lily
And at your peak by far Natureâ€™s set the stage for you Itâ€™s your time to be the star To be sure, Lily, the birds the bees the flowers Well that is just who we are
About the Author Darcy Miller is a practicing poet. She is a proud member of Scarborough Arts, Scarborough Seniors Write, and the Scarborough Poetry Club. She is a baby boomer/writer who pens mature musings about life, death, and all things in between. She is also a proud member of The Guildwood Community Association.
The Summer Adventure Irene Plachtinsky
About 47 years ago, with my two young children, eight and ten years old, I decided to take a long summer camping trip that would entail a drive from Toronto, Ontario to Thompson, Manitoba. At that time, travelling from Winnipeg to Thompson, Manitoba was on a gravel road, plus there were construction crews paving new roads. Unfortunately, it rained two days in a row. Not only cars, but also heavy machines even got stuck in the mud. At one roadside camp, I pulled over with the intention to fix breakfast and let the children stretch. I also needed a little stretch and felt sleepy after driving all night. In no time at all, little black flies covered us. We packed quickly and went to the nearest hotel and restaurant. I almost forgot to mention we 124
carried a little pet hamster in a plastic pumpkin pail with us. After supper, we showered and went to bed, got up at 2 AM, and started on a nearly empty road. The children continued their night sleep in the back seat made up like a double bed. My joy ride did not last long, and after nearly an hour, my car broke down. An 18-wheeler came by and wanted to give me a hand, but it was a soft shoulder and he started to sink towards the ditch. Another 18-wheeler came and tried to save him from ditching but the chain broke. A third one appeared and the two of them managed to pull the first one to safety. Then one of them towed me to the truckers’ rest stop, which was also a motel and restaurant. The driver asked me if I had been towed before, I said, “no, but there is a first time for everything.” He explained to me that my car would be hooked to his truck by chain, and I would have to do the steering and breaking for about 45-50 miles. When we reached our destination, the restaurant owner notified a mechanic in town. I woke up the children, saying, “Go inside the restaurant.” When the tow driver saw them, his 125
face turned ashen. He screamed, “Lady! Where did those children come from?” I told him they had been sleeping in the back of my car. Then he said, “I had been hesitant to tow you; if I knew you had those children, I never would.” Then I said, “You should be more obligated to do so because of them.” Bystanders admired my courage and wisdom. This was the long Canada Day weekend and the Manitoba Phone Company was on strike. I couldn’t even notify my husband and my sister that the car had broken down on the road or what was going on. At that point, I didn’t know how long it would take to fix the car. Three days later we reached our destination, but I made a right turn on a red light, and a police person pulled me over. Luckily, he was knowledgeable of the Ontario driving rules. He asked for my driver’s licence, at which point I discovered I lost my wallet in the motel washroom. It must have slipped behind the water tank when we used the bathroom last. Right away I obtained a temporary drivers licence. My husband’s insurance covered us for instances like this. I notified my bank to stop my present account until further notice, and it all seemed settled. 126
We were just about the first campers at that marked area, which had outhouse facilities that only had running water on rainy days. All summer long we fetched the ice from the lakeshore for the coolers. That’s how cold it was. As the sun was going down, each half hour we had to put another layer of clothes on. As the sun was coming up, the layers would be removed. One occasion, a neighbouring camper was minding my children while I went into town to pick up some groceries. When I returned, I saw my child’s clothes hanging on the line. I froze. My oldest daughter apparently slipped into the lake with all of her overnight layers on. Late one night, my husband was in town working, and my daughter had to use the outhouse, which was 600 feet away in the bush. That was a long distance to leave my other daughter asleep alone in the tent. While we were at the outhouse, we heard branches cracking and heavy, muffled breathing. To me, it sounded like a bear. My daughter started to shiver and said, “Mommy, I’m scared.” So was I, but I had to assure her we were okay. When we came out of the bathroom, sure enough there was a big black bear. But I was equipped 127
with a big flashlight, which I shined into his face. As fast as we could, we headed back to the tent, and made the biggest bonfire. Sure enough the rangers found the bear the next morning; he had swam across from another island. That summer the Hong Kong flu hit Canada, and all of us got it one after the other. There was no medical cure available, so I went to the liquor store remembering the good old remedies of plum brandy. Little by little we all recovered. Even a doctor asked for my remedy! For the farewell celebration, I invited the mostly Hungarian townsâ€™ people for a palascinta (crĂŞpe) feast. I mixed about two and a half gallons of batter and filled the crĂŞpes with ricotta and jam. They were a sensation in Thompson, Manitoba! One final moment to add to the summer vacation excitement: on our way home, heavy pouring rain stranded us on a highway ramp as my children slept in the wee hours of the morning. After getting help from a couple and waiting it out, the car started up on its own. This was my first and last long summer vacation. There are a lot of sincere people willing to help a stranger in Canada. We have to recognize that! 128
About the Author Irene Plachtinsky is originally from Hungary and came to Canada after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Once a registered nurse, Irene has been retired for the past 23 years. Irene joined the Scarborough Arts writing group three years ago. She writes her stories for her extended family: two daughters, ten grandchildren, and eight greatgrandchildren.
La Delgada Linea Amarilla Jim Richardson
Sitting in the darkened Cineplex Coliseum Theatre, I’m here to watch the first film viewed at the fourth annual Scarborough Worldwide Film Festival. The first movie was a Croatian love story shot over three decades in Balkan villages burdened with a long history of interethnic hatred, which boiled over into the breakup of Yugoslavia. My ticket included the opening night party held next door at Moxie’s Grill and Bar. I met a writer I knew who was covering the event for the local news agency, The Mirror. We got to talking with her neighbour who had come along with her. The party was certainly exciting, especially living the red carpet film life under a photographer’s white light reflector umbrella. The film was introduced, the audience was thanked for their participation, 130
and the actors were thanked for excellent performances. One of the comments about the film was its unique way of covering thought and emotion through body movement; there was very little dialogue used. I had reviewed the catalogue of films to be shown and commented on the one to be showcased at the Fox Theatre at the end of the week, The Thin Yellow Line: “The job would be long and hot, five men hired to paint the centre line on the highway. It was long enough to learn the lines between good and evil, laughter and despair, life and death.” I told my friend that I had seen those men in real life painting that yellow line when I was in Mexico many years ago, “I am looking forward to reliving that time again.” I went to see The Thin Yellow Line with Sari Eastwood, who starred in that movie Mill Street. This was filmed in the streets of the Distillery District; a typical “New Generation” adventure through the restaurants of the district; the name says it all, just think Mill Street, Tank House, and pitchers of beer. Sari enjoyed the movie The Thin Yellow Line and the fact that we could take selfies in front of the Film Festival backdrop used for press interviews. 131
*** Memories started bubbling to the surface: past emotions, landscapes, crises in time, and historical events. This included my grand Uncle Charlesâ€™ work in Cuba at the turn of the century. Charles left to seek his fortune in Cuba where he settled at la Gloria, Camaguey. The town was six kilometres inland from the north costal port city of Nuevitas. He bought three planation lots from the Cuban Land and Steamship Company of the Passaic in New Jersey. By March 1902, he had cleared land to plant pineapples; the other lots would be planted with vegetables and potatoes. By January third, 1905 in la Gloria, Cuba, Charles would die from yellow fever. The land had been put into a trust for his son, Rod. With government uncertainties in Cuba that led to a depression, the land remained unsold. There is no record that any money ever reached Rod. *** My mind started reeling, recalling when I was in Cuba with the code name Iago. That moment in time when it all nearly ended, I had been a 132
clandestine contractor. The assassinâ€™s dart fired across the pool was supposed to kill me. At that precise time, I stepped onto the black shadow under the straw umbrella that in the daytime provided shade for the swim-up-pool-bar. This happened at 3:00 AM when I was heading back to my room, 411. The team had been following me all evening, and this was their best opportunity for success. A few drinks of rum earlier had meant my wits were not as sharp as they should have been. I was down a few notches with the rum, and that may have been a good thing. It allowed me to stumble down the steps of that swim-up-pool-bar on the dry side. My left foot dropped, missing the top step; I teetered to the left hitting the pool wall with my left arm between the shoulder and the elbow joint. My next right step also missed but straightened me up forcing me to swing dangerously toward the bar, my head hitting a bar stool, pushing it forward out of the way allowing the fall to go to the floor landing me on my right hip on the concrete floor, 30 feet below the shadow on the pool deck. All the assassin could see was the bar umbrella and the pool deck. I disappeared, vanished from view, and lay on the floor in 133
extreme pain. I was lucky but had to move fast. I dragged my leg through the counter door to the inside. I bolted the door. The assassin team came to investigate; I could hear a foreign language as they concluded I had gotten away. They also had to move quickly since the night security guard would pass by at 3:30 AM on his rounds. Two commandos standing there in black with a recently fired tranquilizer gun would not look good. If discovered, the team would have to shoot the guard with a silencer. Questions would be asked, but more importantly, the team would have to reveal its presence. It would be a mistake to reveal the mission. For my part, I also had to be discreet and leave just after the guard passed, without being revealed. A few minutes later, the bar door rattled. The door had been checked, still locked and secure, I was inside but would now have to allow the guard time to move away before leaving. I would get out, climb the few steps, and continue along the walk I had stared before the dart was fired. I had to make my way over the lighted, exposed grass area to room 411. I made it, and saw no one inside 411. I started to assess the damage. It turned out to 134
be a large red, blue, yellow patch of bloody flesh on my right hip travelling the length of my thigh to my knee. I really thought it was a fatal fall, possibly a broken leg, until I saw the dart scratch across the flesh of my left arm—that would have brought the mission to a close. It took a long while to determine what really happened on my left arm. After concluding it was the straight concrete edge of the pool wall that had caused the straight line damage, it was sore but not debilitating, a bad bruise, a little blood, that’s all. It hurt but not as badly as the leg. The leg was in pain and forced a noticeable limp that appeared later in a security video of my exiting a bus. The limp definitely hindered my ability to walk. Those were my days in Cuba working with code names Ron de Havana Club and his son (Roberto) Dos Dedos Tequila. That’s when my good friend Joe Rolston, a recon-marine, had to stand down when President Kennedy called off the attack just after it had arrived on Cuba’s southern shore from Nicaragua. Castro’s forces had ambushed the attack. The attackers were trapped coming through the mountain pass later that week. This is known as the Bay of Pigs Operation. 135
*** Outside the theatre, out of the airconditioning and into the hot humid air, my mind started to focus on the show we had just watched, The Thin Yellow Line. I saw those men spraying that yellow line on the highway at Rumorosa where the road starts to climb off the desert floor to go over the top of Sierra de San Pedro Martir in Baja California before heading to the village of Tecate. That was my route for a steak dinner and a Tecate cerveza crossing that yellow line on the map that is the frontier between Mexico and the United States. Itâ€™s where guns go south and people and drugs come north in through the Arizona desert. *** I am Iago travelling with Ricky Rabbit and Maureen and a small load of assault AK 47â€™s. The car is an Oldsmobile with a small trailer with a military looking green tarp cover to protect the cargo. We crossed that thin yellow line known as the frontier between Arizona and Sinora state. Here is the border crossing of Nogales. A few 136
dollars slipped into the hands of the Customs Inspector insured a â€œBueno inspectionâ€? and a slip of paper to prove it. The receipt for the tourist board of Mexico indicated that the tourists would spend about $30 a day on vacation in Mexico. Maureen took the wheel from Ricky after we cleared town. A nice summer day with a light breeze that wind-chilled the humidity out of the air. I rested in the back seat. Suddenly awakened when the car dropped a foot down off the pavement, the brakes applied sliding the car on the loose gravel of the road construction, jack knifing the trailer, pushing the rear fender to the side of the excavation. Maureen was silent; I think I saw a few tears running down her cheek. The mission would have been compromised. I got out quickly to survey the damage: a small scratch on the fender and a chunk of metal out of the cowling covering the flywheel. The bent metal piece was making a small ticking noise. The show of emotion by Maureen must have been a lesion in time for her not to give you away. It did not reveal the hardened operative she would become a decade later. *** 137
Maureen was working out of the Moscow Embassy, running a double blind information drop exchange with her counterpart inside the Russian security services. While returning from the drop one day she was arrested on a railroad bridge and taken to Lubyanka prison, put in Ink Cartridges an interrogation room with the contents of a package dropped several years before. It contained a pen with a camera and a poisonous capsule in the cover of the pen. She instantly knew something bad had happened to her contact and this might not be good for her. Maureen stone faced, stonewalled the KGB inquisitors, they could not prove any connection with the package, Maureen was declared persona non grata and deported. What was later found out that her contact had been found to have been sending out information and was asked to sign the statement prepared for him. He calmly agree and took the cap off his pen to sign the statement, popped it in his mouth and committed suicide before the eyes of the KGB officers that were questioning him. Maureen was not seen again in Moscow and I never saw her again.
*** My mind seems to be jumping memories flooding back, recalling long stored images that should be buried. After the incident and jack knifing the trailer, I took over the driving. Maureen watched the road for the left turn into the Laguna Salada that would come just west of Mexicali. The next place we came to was Altar, which today is one of the jumping off points where illegal immigrants make deal with the smugglers, sometimes forced to take drugs with them over the border. Here your life is on the line since the trail along the Rio Seco is treacherous, long, and hot; if you make it this far, you still have to cross the Arizona desert south of Tuscon. I have heard these names before. We have all learned them when we were mall children watching T.V. Westerns when TV was new. If you could see the black and white pictures at all, through what was called â€œsnowâ€? on the screen in those days. The guns had to be delivered. Maureen found the road south into the copper mine. We travelled south past Laguna Salada, which was a swampy lake when it rained, but mostly it was 139
a dried up cracked desert floor ten meters below sea level. Thirty kilometers south of Mexicali, in the shadow of Sierra de Juarez mountain range, we would find the road into the mine. At an old, Spanish looking, stone block building built in the last century was the place to drop the cargo. The guns were inspected, accepted, and unloaded as quickly as possible, then paid for in U.S. currency. We were allowed to leave and returned back to the highway over the secondary dust covered road. At the highway we turned left toward Rumorosa, the highest point on the highway before descending down into Tecate. As we approached the mountain top village, we were flagged down to proceed slowly past a crew of four men pulling a portable sprayer up the mountain side painting the thin yellow line on the centre of the highway. They all had winter hats on with the earflaps pulled down and tied. We passed them now and sped up just to be flagged down as we came to a small building at the side of the road. The police were there and they wished to inspect the car and trailer. I got out in a t-shirt and immediately felt the cold of the wind blowing over the mountain range. As I bent down to unlock the trailer door 140
my eyes glanced along the side of the building where ex-Mexican military men stood at ease in full military dress. I guessed they were there with guns ready to enforce the rules. I thought it was all over now but was forced to go along with the charade. After all, they would not find the guns. I thought surely they had seen the dust thrown up from the secondary road as we left the mine. A good set of military binoculars should have been sufficient. The police officer said, “Gracias Senor, aia con dios.” As I entered the car, Ricky said, “Vamos, let’s go”. We drove on to Tecate for a good steak dinner with a Tecate beer. Then we were on the road again, heading southwest to the coast of the Pacific and a campsite in Ensenada, Baja California. Early Saturday morning, we were up and ready to go; the Baja 1000 off road race would be starting at 9:00 AM. Every conceivable off-road vehicle was in the race down the Baja Peninsula to La Paz at the bottom where, if you made it that far, you would find the finish line. We did a little sightseeing in the village of Ensenada before turning in for the night. That night there was a light knock at the trailer door. We were all alert, and the knock came again. The tent flap was zipped open, 141
but there was no one to be seen until I looked down and saw two little Mexican children trickor-treating. It was the last night of October: Hallowe’en. We found the partially eaten bag of Oreo cookies, split it in half between them, and I put the cookies in the bags held out by the frighteningly dressed small figures before me. They were very happy no tricks were played. In the morning we packed the trailer and headed north to Tijuana, into the great traffic jam that is the crossing point over that thin yellow line that is the boarder back into the United States. The trip was successful, Iago was able to slip back from that dark side and regain that normal life again. *** My Dia de los Muertos celebration has not yet come. Spectre that classic Bond Otoo movie that was made recently was inspired by my diary written some fifty years ago where my life crossed over that thin yellow line “La Delgada Línea Amarilla.”
About the Author Jim Richardson was born in December 1942. He began school at John A. Leslie, then attended R.H. King Academy and Danforth Technical School. He studied electricity at George Brown College and Industrial Electronics at Seneca and Centennial Colleges. He became an Electrician Master and Electrical Contractor in the Province of Ontario with customers across Ontario and a few in Quebec. Jim joined the Seniors Writing Group at the Toronto Public Library. The group liked his written work; Jim liked the opportunity to try his hand at another discipline after retiring from electrical work in 2009. His work has been in several Scarborough Arts publications.
Picassoâ€™s Muse Marilyn Rivers
No matter how much we know grief will take its toll May these days be gentle on you, my friend and not linger too long We see the passing not with eyes The energy gone a body in its place Who? What is this? Where did you take her? She has escaped the burdens of life 144
and yet she lurks watching, not sure what to do how to ease the pain of the living who must stitch a gaping hole left by a warm energy moving on Ah, love so well we know itâ€™s there when itâ€™s not Absence, a palpable presence of loss a loneliness uninterrupted by company A song accompanying the day and night Sounds surrounding every activity With a drone beneath catching a breath on occasion This living body carried to the brink of its demise 145
seeking, seeing the dark tunnel that swirls and sends me back Not your time girl Get out there and live (and don’t take your sweet bloody time about it either!) Wait. Was that you? Seemed so easy before you tell me to do and I do Now, not so much my own voice, not so strong my desire…waning This is the price when the grief lingers When the days are not gentle the nights struggle and a body can be hard to live in May your days be gentle your nights sound and may Picasso’s muse find you working off your grief 146
About the Author Marilyn Rivers has been writing since childhood, when it first became apparent that words provided an outlet for emotions that had nowhere else to express themselves. Weathered now by age and experience, she brings a new awareness to these emotions, which in turn amaze her with their perseverance. Trained as a musician and psychotherapist, she has pursued many other avenues of expression yet seems to return repeatedly to poetry which often emerges unexpectedly yet is always welcome.Â
An Energetic Retiree Lisan Tao
It was snowing hard. Walking on the crunching snow against piercing northern wind, I was very cold; my limbs were becoming numb. Dragging my legs through the deep snow, I was looking for 99 Bendale Drive: John’s, my first client’s, house. While I was approaching it, I heard the fierce fit of a dog’s bark that made me nervous. As I mustered up my courage to knock on the door, a slim, elegant old lady opened it with a welcoming smile, “You must be Leon. My name is Mary. My husband John is waiting for you. Come on in.” Mary held the door while pulling a dog by her side. “This dog is friendly although he barks sometimes. Don’t be scared.” Entering the house, I saw a tall old gentleman in sportswear rise from a recliner and greet me, “Good morning, Leon. I’m John. Have a seat.” 148
His greeting sounded soft and friendly, but he looked stern with a full beard. When I was seated, his wife brought me a cup of hot coffee and a plate of Indian cookies. Sipping at the fragrant steaming coffee, I felt warm and relaxed. From my supervisor, I learned that John had a bad fall, breaking his hip a couple of weeks earlier and had a hip replacement, so now he needed some help with his personal care. John told me that he had the fall when he was walking down the driveway towards his van headed to a regular swimming session. He slipped on the black ice on the driveway and fell with a loud crack followed by a sharp pain. He couldnâ€™t get up, but he was not flustered. His wife called 9-1-1, and John was transported to Sunnybrook Hospital where he had a hip replacement. This accident, however, didnâ€™t stop him from doing exercises. He stretched his arms and legs in his chair, lifted dumbbells, and even exercised his hips with his imagination. He believed that the only way to prevent an accident is to do exercises to be strong while being discrete. He told me that he was going to resume his swimming sessions in a month, but on the day of my visit, he still needed my help with his shower. With his height 149
of 6 feet 5 inches, I was dwarfed (I am 5 feet 6 inches). Nevertheless, he tried very hard to help me help him; he pulled himself up the stairs and washed himself as much as he could. By the way, he was 75 years old. During the shower, I accidentally dropped the shampoo bottle on his foot, and I was terrified when I heard an “ouch!” But he quickly recovered and comforted me, “I’m okay. Don’t worry.” I still felt very sorry, and said so, and was relieved at his magnanimity. After the shower, I helped him back to the living room, where we had a nice long talk. I learned that his father was a British army officer sent to India and his mother an Indian nurse from Calcutta. He was born in India and spent his childhood and youth there, and then he came to Canada to finish his university in 1947. He had taught English in a high school for forty years, until he retired in 1987. However, he had kept teaching English since then either in the community or at home as a volunteer. He was very happy doing it because he saw so many immigrant students he had taught find jobs or pursue further study. While we were talking, there was a knock on the door and there came 150
in a young couple, who, I learned later, were John’s new students from China. These students, a husband and wife, happened to come from my hometown, and they told me that John was an excellent teacher and that they had made such a rapid progress in English with his help that they were able to study at Seneca College in the coming spring. John’s method of teaching was unique: he combined the classroom (his home) study with on the spot practice. For example, after he taught the lesson “in the gym” he took his students to the community gym, where they reviewed vocabulary and expressions in sports while doing exercises. In addition, they could practice their English with English speaking people in the gym. John also took his students with his family to his cottage for weekends or holidays. By this way, the students could learn English quicker while having fun. Not only did he teach English at home, he also helped an English conversation circle for immigrants and refugees in the community centre. He helped them in their study as well as their life. Mohamed, for example, was from Rwanda. He was a survivor of the 1993 genocide and fled the country with the help of the Canadian 151
Mission and immigrated to Canada. Although he got some financial help from the Canadian government, he still encountered innumerable difficulties in the adaption to this new country without a relative or friend. John was one of the new friends who helped him in his adaption. John helped him to find a place to live, supplied him with articles for daily life, and took him to see doctors when he was sick. After one year of studying English and three years at George Brown College, Mohamed became a counsellor in the Rwanda Community Services Association, where he helped hundreds of his countrymen settle down in this new country. John was a busy retiree and his life was colourful. He did a lot of things many seniors donâ€™t do. He swam every day. Thatâ€™s how he recovered so quickly from his hip operation. He wrote books: a couple on English literature, one on the teaching methodology of English as a second language, and another one is his memoir. To write these books required a lot of reading, research, brainstorming, and typing. He sat at his desk for six hours a day for 12 years. Sometimes he worked into the early hours of the morning. Sometimes he suffered 152
from insomnia. Sometimes he lost his appetite. Many a time his wife and children tried to persuade him to stop working so hard or at least slow down a bit, but he just couldn’t help it. He was kind of addicted to it, as he once said. His endeavours bore fruits: his literary works were published in Great Britain, the ESL book in Canada, and his memoirs in India. He also published a monthly family newsletter. All the family members (John had eight children and twenty-four grandchildren) emailed in their news by the end of the third week of a month; John edited the news and sent it out through their website at the beginning of the following month. Everybody liked the newsletters, which made the family members understand and love each other better. It allowed them to be closer. Another thing John enjoyed doing was delivering speeches or organizing guest speakers for his congregation. Even I was invited to give a speech titled “The Present and Future of China.” The audience was enthusiastic, and I was impressed. One final thing, John was an active participant in the leadership of the Canadian British Indian Association. There is a large population of British 153
Indians in the world. Each year he received a couple of visiting British-Indian Delegations from all over the world. He also led delegations to visit India and the Great Britain every few years. Because of his excellent work for the Association, the World Association of British Indians awarded him a medal in 2000. John has been retired for a while, but he is busier than ever. He believes that doing something which one enjoys and is capable of, and which also benefits society, should be the desired existence of a retiree.
About the Author Lisan Tao was born in China in 1938 and taught English for 25 years before moving to Canada and working for the Canadian Red Cross. For 20 years, Tao worked with clients that were seniors and developed friendships with these clients. His submission is an excerpt from a larger work titled Notes from a Caregiver.
Two Crows (Requiem to a Dead Elm) Sheila White
Two crows came and sang to me from the highest limb of a dead elm tree. One bird clucked as the other one cawed with its bent left wing pointing down to my yard. I swear it was showing me a boundary line, indicating which part of the tree was mine, echoing a poignant farewell with their Requiem to A Dead Elm. And I, among the raspberry canes, a lucky traveler’s refrain it is to see and hear the featured show starring the psychic, sentient crows. They split the silence with their song as if to say, “What’s dead is gone. 155
We bear the burden of your care so now you can move on from there.” Those birds, their uttering, bold and clear, the calling sky that brought them here, the searing sun above these two brought messages to help me through. “Take everything it gave you— the shade and happy times, its verdant leaves and cradling limbs, and leave the rest behind. The twigs, the brittle branches, once rugged bark scrubbed clean, leave them with the brambles and only take your dreams.”
About the Author
Sheila White is a long-time resident of Scarborough. She is a musician, composer, writer, editor, and a member Scarborough Arts and the Scarborough Poetry Club. Sheila co-leads Don Heights Regional Writers Group, where she mentors songwriters. She is also Music Director of Don Heights Singers, which is an open community choir based in Don Mills that meets every Tuesday night from September through June. The Don Heights Singers recently produced an original songbook.
The 2017 Seniors Write Anthology captures the unique voices of Scarborough. You are invited to explore the works of 29 senior authors through their poetry and short stories. This anthology is the culmination of Scarborough Artsâ€™ Seniors Write program.
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We are excited to celebrate the 30 Scarborough-based seniors at the book launch of the 2017 Seniors Write Anthology. The Anthology is the cu...
Published on Feb 23, 2017
We are excited to celebrate the 30 Scarborough-based seniors at the book launch of the 2017 Seniors Write Anthology. The Anthology is the cu...