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for my grandmothers

ruby boiled bottles black forest cake for safekeeping mary crazy carpet you’ll forget in time straight line or four corners

boiled bottles as my hands envelop the jar of preserves that her hands impressed the summer before she passed i comprehend fertility the smell of 27 summers born as a taurus at the cusp of blooms crack pop hissss ssss sss pickled carrots ebb on the platter each baton meticulously cut by her hands [palm & phalanges] once warm and wrinkled by her hands that bathed five babes [fussing & floundering] by her hands with burn marks and nettle stings [o u c h , f u c k] now discarded as ashes amongst peat moss and wood louse leaving everything carbon //////////////////////////////////////// and nothing at all


black forest cake when a loved one passes on the surviving family members are often tasked with un f o l d i n g unpacking and ///SI//FT//IN//G/// through belongings as the unfamiliar silence roars i hush ​‘mom it feels like we shouldn't be doing this’ but when i opened the little drawer that never quite shut properly ‘oh he’ll get around to fixing it’ next to the dusty coffee percolator that was barely used to begin with i found fourteen half burned birthday candles from the cake you made for me in 2004 and my eyes well up because we all hoped you’d live to be 100 100 years or more


for safekeeping my mother has her rituals; learned behaviour and patterns— stitched and sewn by you ↝↝↝↝↝↝↝↝↝↝↝↝↝↝↝ for example every greeting card our family has ever received is wrapped in cellophane in the bottom drawer of her dresser right in the | middle row | fading penmanship from relatives long since past and hugs and kisses

exes and ohs well wishes and thanks i can now only ​sm​u​d​g​e just to feel them again


crazy carpet the scent of the exhaust fumes being emitted from passing cars and skidoos and the school bus after i faked being sick brings forth: a) freezer burn on orange pineapple ice cream on a cone on the hillside and the sensation of jagged rock slicing through snow suits b) of invincibility of feet rubbing and hand holding of snot and mucus on an upper lip and icicle fellatio of 1997 c) or the cold ground and my warm mittens after sitting by your woodstove now rusted and displaced as long as i love you each day of my life


you’ll forget in time ‘he stopped loving her today’ by george jones came blaring over the sears radio kept high atop the fridge and as i try to piece together how that would have sounded to your bad ears / those deaf ears you said were ‘like two cotton balls stogged full’ hindering you from navigating through a world that tried to forget you on a rock mechanically eroding further and deeper into the atlantic the woodshed was the first to go and the little shack where my parents lived in ‘87 then they levelled the kitchen the window overlooking the point physical geography the living room the picture of jesus religious iconography the bathroom the tiny closet the storage room the moose meat the front step the artesian well the path you cut to the church where mary anne got stung by a bee but now through tin and copper and radio airwaves i siphon the words and melodies where florence king said: ‘true nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories’ as george jones sang: ‘and soon they'll carry him away, he stopped loving her today’


straight line or four corners 7 years old and summertime was filled with the sound of your electric lawnmower with the tangled cord and empty white salt beef tubs chinched with blueberries for homemade tarts and pies the sound of daytime trashy talk shows like jerry springer and sally jesse raphael spouting american propaganda at your small town widower’s homemaker’s worldview a few empty bingo blotters clunking together at the bottom of purses and canvas tote bags blue ​pink ​purple hung on doorknobs of every room waiting for friday night to try and glean some extra luck and the dank smell of aged cigarette smoke of which you have never taken a draw clinging to coats and shirts and pants from the hall attached to the catholic church where you played all by yourself


thank you for taking the time to read my chapbook. this body of work has been a long time coming. i lost my last surviving grandmother, ruby wyatt-rowsell in 2016. her death launched me into a whirlwind of feelings and emotions; namely nostalgia and grief. i began thinking, how does one navigate through life without a familial matriarch? a tradition-bearer? a quilter? a joker? a winemaker? a berry picker? a baker? my nan? my grandmother mary mackey-white passed in 2001. although being only 11 years old at the time of her death, i was still able to comprehend that she had gone away. she was not coming back. the family would fracture. the house would be levelled. the land would be sold. her belongings would collect dust in boxes in our crawlspace. the annual december birthday bash would exist no more. but through memories -- through art forms like storytelling, poetry, songwriting, we’re able to keep these women alive. all is not lost when you lose a loved one, bits and pieces of them are still alive, still breathing, being recycled; in parts of you. this is your personal daily reminder to call your grand/parents and tell them you love them. this is your personal daily reminder to never let go.

unthreading the bobbin  
unthreading the bobbin