From The Work, forthcoming from Stonehouse, Fall 2019
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I don’t know.
Rebecca’s eyes went blurry when Dr. Delman in her cardigan and pearls started in on those questions. It was obvious: Dr. D. was looking for some connection between the death of their father when she was four, and her stupidity in school.
“Not stupidity, Rebecca. Don’t put yourself down like that! You know you can be anything you want to be. Why don’t you draw me a picture of something you want?”
“Can you tell me what you’re feeling right now?”
“I don’t know.”
That is all over now: that block between Rebecca and others, between Rebecca and her feelings. It is nothing she can put into words, but this thing that everyone at SenseInSound calls “The Work” is like a taproot reaching down to her essence: an unquenchable loneliness, a longing that will never be satisfied.
From Outside the Box: The Life and Legacy of Writer Mona Gould, the Grandmother I Thought I Knew. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011
At the end of the day I gathered a pile of dust from the counter of the study carrel with a wet paper towel, swept it into my hand and threw it in the garbage. The dust had sat in Mona’s various apartments and gone into the boxes when she moved, settled on top of other dust from other apartments and traveled with her to the next place. Molecules of Mona surrounded me. Her familiar smell was on my hands when I left the place. Sometimes, I found one of Mona’s white hairs. Sometimes, I found one of my own white hairs.
From: The M Word: Conversations About Motherhood. Goose Lane Editions, 2014
“What can I do?” my husband asked.
“Make me a doll, the most disgusting doll you can imagine. Make it freakish and hairy, and make it the size of a newborn.”
My husband likes making things. He said, “I can do that.”
From At the End of Life: True Stories About How We Die. Creative Non-Fiction, 2011
I encouraged my mother to wait for my visits before taking a “walk.” I leaned over and steer her scooter for her, using the lever on the armrest. She rested her hand on my hand. Two ladies who always sat in the lounge inclined their heads together as we passed. “The daughter,” one said to another. “Very nice.”
“The Last Judgment” Found Press, 2011
I learned about God on Yonge Street. I glimpsed a cluster of people in blue, hooded capes with silver crosses around their necks. Lightning passed through me. I drew nearer, cautiously, never looking away. I wished I could become invisible, walk into their midst without being seen. Stand amid all that blue as if standing in the sky. They were handing out pamphlets. I lost my nerve and stood watching from where they could not see me. I picked up a pamphlet from the ground. “ARE YOU READY FOR THE LAST JUDGMENT?” it said in big letters on the front page, and then, underneath: “The prophet Elijah Moses has heard the call. March 4, 1975, is the day of the Last Judgment. PREPARE YOURSELF.”