- by Alyson Shane
It wasn't about you at first which I guess is how these kinds of dreams always start.
I was in a house, hooking up with someone I used to hook up with
a long, long time ago
and at one point he turned to me and said
"there's an art exhibit happening"
so I walked into the living room and there was a huge, three-sided diorama in the middle of the room
almost as tall as my chest
the kind you see in science fairs, except
built into the diorama were little nooks and crannies
and sections that slid out or folded open
little pockets of memories about us
when we were together, years ago.
I sat down in the middle of the diorama
pulled at a sliding section
and all the words you called me when I left you came tumbling out
your hurt littered like petals at my feet.
As I looked down I saw a light in the diorama to my left and crouched down
pulling back curtains to see our bedroom, back on Spence St
our bed, crumpled sheets
the closet door intact, before you punched it
and realized that I was looking at a history of us
laid out like the set in the movie Rear Window.
I could look from window to window
see moments in our life together
the dinners in the kitchen, the games in the living room
camping at Connect, the drives out to B.C.
how we held each other, the cats climbing over us
our slow weekend starts drinking coffee in bed.
I could open windows, pull out sliding sections
and comic illustrations of our life together would pop out
setting up our Christmas tree
buying snacks at the Marchée Jean-Talon in Montreal
riding our bikes around the city in the summertime
drinking beers in Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto
catching plays downtown at The Fringe Festival
watching the sun set over the mountains in Golden
the first time I said I loved you
and you said you loved me back.
I could flip through this collection of experiences we shared
see how you saw me
an inspiration, then
someone you hated.
Someone you still hate.
In the dream you walked in when I was standing in the middle of the diorama
rifling through the memories of us you had assembled
organized into windows, envelopes, pockets
and as you walked in I felt my knees get weak, my legs almost fell out from under me
with nerves, guilt, sadness, shame
a longing for the friendship we shared that I know
we'll never share again.
"Hey" I said "what you've made is beautiful"
(a city built around your ongoing heartbreak)
and you looked at me for the first time in eight years and said
and in the dream we talked about how you'd built the diorama around
the ups and downs of five and a half years of
"I'm sorry" I said in the dream, and I meant it
and you looked at me and said
"it's okay, I'm doing better now"
and then I woke up and I wished that I knew that to be true
but I don't know if that's true.
I wish I did.
- by Alyson Shane
The Red River Community Centre
down the street from my house, a few short blocks away
on the corner of Murray Avenue and Donan Street
surrounded by ditches, a baseball field
hockey arenas lay empty and stinking of piss and sex in the summer.
Made with wooden beams and pillars
rough to the touch, watch out for splinters
picking them out of hands, feet, knees,
until there were too many and ignoring them became easier
than pausing a game to squeeze them out.
The slide that was removed before I can clearly remember
the empty wooden tower where it used to be
where I vaguely recall hot, silver metal glinting in the sunlight
the burn of it on my bare legs
sliding down towards welcoming, outstretched arms.
Sand instead of little pebbles
which got in your eyes when you fell down
or got kicked up during a game of Grounders
while scrambling to get from one surface to another.
The big, fat tire swing that was the beacon of summer
suspended by three thick chains in a plastic coating
sticky and black from hands and sweat by mid-June.
Under-ducks and spinning until we were nearly sick
almost hitting our heads on the overhead beams
grabbing on and spinning, suspended in the air
that time my brother kicked someone in the mouth.
Thank goodness they were all baby teeth.
Monkey bars, hot to the touch in the afternoon light
seeing who could jump the farthest
past the first, second, third bar
each summer we got farther until we were too tall to jump
and could walk from one side to the other.
Riding our bikes in circles around the parking lot with no lines
just gravel and broken glass and prickly weeds
the occasional car with frisky teenagers in the back parked at the far end
tucked away from us and our raucous noise
exploring new landscapes with the windows half rolled down.
The community centre, barely a shadow of a building
made of white brick and smelling like used sports equipment
the crowded area where I would lace up my skates
and drink cheap, watery hot chocolate with my dad for .50 cents.
One year my parents signed me up for daytime summer camp
where we played sports and did arts and crafts
went on weekly trips to Kildonan Park or Fun Mountain or Oak Hammock Marsh
and I spent a furious afternoon trying to cut through a recycled paper plate
carving it into a snake which I decorated with markers and sequins
and lost while chasing frogs on the way home.
The park, like most of my childhood haunts, is gone
replaced by a monstrosity of steel and glass
which encompasses almost all of the green space where I roamed,
a skate park where the soccer fields and their empty metal nets used to be
fake palm trees where I laced up my first pair of cleats.
I mourn for these places, now.
I wish that I had understood the humble, fleeting magnificence
of the happy, blissful, sun-drench days I spent there
eating gummy candies acquired from the gas station up the road
shaped like blue feet, kissing lips, fuzzy peaches
worrying about nothing except how late it was getting
and when I would be able to make my way back tomorrow.
- by admin
he's 60 which means that he was the age of the guy that I'm dating when I was born. Wrap yr head around that.
I didn't grow up listening to Costello as my parents (bless their hearts) had questionable taste in music besides blasting Elton John during Sunday morning house cleanings.
The first time I really heard Costello was sitting in a coffee shop downtown drinking a London Fog with a boy I was dating who was into photography and had just finished taking my picture in the December snow in a dress that was far too short for the wind chill that night.
We were talking about who knows what when Little Palaces came on and he started to sing along and I said
I don't know this song
and he said
that's unbelievable! I'm taking you home and we're going to listen to all of his greatest hits and then some because it is a travesty if you don't know Costello.
He took my hand and we ran through the snowbanks and suddenly my legs didn't feel so cold
and he made me hot chocolate and sang Alison
which isn't spelled right but whatever
I'll take it.
Happy birthday, Mr. Costello.
- by admin
by a band that isn't all that great, really.
But sometimes I get it in my head and can't get it out no matter how hard I shake it or listen to Royal Canoe.
The first time I really listened to it
I mean really listened
was while walking down the street in Hamilton when I lived there.
It was spring but still cold and I was walking around puddles and I was sad because I missed Winnipeg and everyone in it, even though I would have never admitted it at the time -to myself or to anyone.
I walked around and was thinking about my boyfriend and my life and how lonely I was even though I'd left on what was supposed to be this grand, life-changing adventure
it didn't really change me at all
at least, not until after it was over, anyway.
This song was on a playlist that my then-boyfriend had put together for me and as I walked through the weird, kinda-scary tunnel under the train track hill to pick up my sushi and sashimi Saturday night dinner for one I realized
you hold me down.
Which is never a good feeling
because things got complicated after that.