the petitioner


Everything that's come up around this house is surprisingly pink, small things peeking, a collective shhh. I used to hear collective shushes. I have to imagine them, now, which is a fancy way of making it up.


Nova Scotia is teeming with Buddhists, who never make it up. They force the shush like a January bulb and make it a real thing even if you are the winteriest winter, willing your own refusal. They coax walkways through the forest that lead to places that make you wonder what they’re for, and you stand there wondering, and I think maybe that’s the whole idea.


I stared at a beehive for a while and felt ignored in favour of work. I wondered about that.


June 15, five years to the day that my son died on my chest. That's not any sort of reminder. It's just a very very sad, strange, wildly expansive day and it always will be, even when I'm an old woman who won't cut her hair, and it's all white, and I swear to god I'm still going to have those rubber boots, and on the 14th of June, every year, I'll still get very very quiet, and indecipherable, and I'll still feel like I'm not sure I'm doing, feeling, writing, or saying the right thing. I'll just get quiet and notice the hole, the strangeness. Did that really happen? Right, yes. It did. Like that? Yes. It did.

I used to feel pink. I felt an odd sort of peace, a lightness in a vacuum. I didn’t hate myself. I’d loved him. I held him. I sang to him. I was sad, but it was a peaceful sort of sadness. I would call up the memory of his grey, spent body in my lap whenever I felt out-of-place, and it made everything




That picture is the most vivid thing in my mind. It made everything physiologically still: pulse, heart rate, breath. It made me feel unafraid of any other thing. It sounds like torture, I guess. You might think that. But isn't. It demands attention. It belongs.

But then I went and dismantled his family, set him drifting. It animated everything again, but in a dark way. Like those dumb movies. People who evade death accidentally only to have death hunt them down by way of fencepost impalement or a train runs over their skull or a swarm of locusts chews through their torso or a gargoyle falls to the street or they get sucked through a turbine. All that magic the year after he died was my accidental evasion. Ben needed milk, pirates needed plot. Things grew.

Sometimes, dead ends lead somewhere.


It’s pretty in there, and always calm. The breeze is the loudest thing.


I touched the water to my lips. I ran my hand over the pebbles. The urn was under there somewhere, right there, tucked in. I thought a lot about what it meant to be so damned lost. I felt clumsy. I stayed a while, then paddled away.


I went to see a medicine woman. I told her about how we’d changed her book from Mabel Murple (rode upon her purple motorbike) to Mabel Moopy (rode upon her poopy motorbike) and about how me and Evan and Ben laughed until we couldn’t breathe, and Ben almost threw up, because he’s always done that. He gets going, giggling, and then URP! and he runs to the bathroom with his hands making this completely fruitless cup under his chin, giggling, URP!, giggling. Evan laughs harder. Giggle-barf! And we laugh some more. 


I came home and told Evan that I’d told SHEREE FITCH! about Mabel Moopy. His eyes went wide. Can I go there next time? Can I … see … her?

I think so, love. She’s so cool. She’d think you’re cool too.

He smiled quietly to himself.

She is a good witch. She ran from polar bears with Margaret Atwood and she sees things. She knows about being lost, and she knows that I am. She knows about the business of fantastic escapes. She healed me with a spoonful of Quebec maple syrup and her own driftings and then four pours into a china teacup and then down to business. Okay. Now. Let’s think about this.

She wrote 2013 on paper and drew a circle around it, and a line underneath that pointed to FLIGHT. You’ve got the sequel, that’s done. You’ve got the zombie poems. That’s done. Two books next year. Then the allegory. Give yourself a week, finish it, and submit. She wrote the name of it with a line pointing to 2014. The essays. Those two for that year. Then the short novel, which you should start on as soon as you get the allegory and essays out. Then adult fiction. 2015. Don’t be afraid of it. Map it out.

She folded it once, a plan, and handed it to me with a stack of three manila envelopes. These are for finished manuscripts. Griffons. Zombies. Allegory. Hang them over your desk until they’re full. Then put empty ones up and fill those too. Then more empty ones. That’s what I do.

I listened, raced, swirled, wondered, incapable, lost. I nodded a lot. Wondered about the lostness. I think maybe that's the whole idea.

How are you?