Sunday, February 23, 2020

Christmas music

If it is true that the history of music has come to an end, what is left of music? Silence?
                        Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting


Since realizing pregnancy, Moira declares: I am no longer interested in fictional characters.

I want only what I can see, taste and touch, she says. Moira has become increasingly tactile. Needles and pins.

At seven weeks, morning sickness less a crest and fall than a permanent wave. She feels nauseous, nauseated, most of the time. At least to throw up would be a relief.

It never comes.


The minimum length of time before public announcements is twelve weeks. At eight weeks, our midwife presents baby’s heartbeat. Twelve weeks, just short of the differentiation of sex. Moira can’t yet distinguish a boy or a girl vibe.

A heartbeat, hummingbird, under her own. I have a person inside me, she smiles.

Roots run, deep as the water-table. Strawberry plants, a system of underground tendrils that burrow for miles.

Kilometre: when writing, I balk at the word. The metric system might have entered Canada before I was born, but we measured distance in miles; my mother her yardstick, and so on. The word sounds too distant. My childhood mapped out a world I have resistance updating.

I tap into black notebook: kilometres to go before we sleep. Once the baby arrives, kilometres to go before we ever sleep again.


Something random and completely terrible happens. Another school shooting in one of the eastern states. Almost immediately, we attempt to ascribe meaning and depth. We attempt to make sense of it. Is this simply a question of faith, of a belief in a higher being, perhaps God? Faith declares that everything happens for a reason. Without that certainty of faith, some might fall apart, dissolve. Aimless. It can be frightening to have no ground upon which to stand.

The entire idea of faith is in believing in something that can’t be proven.

I catch a glimpse of the motorcade for the Prime Minister, a row of black cars driving through New Edinburgh, into Rockcliffe. I can’t help but wonder: if the Prime Minister looks and acts like a duck. He moves like a dictator. The perception of fear, deliberately stitched between him and the populace. Bulletproof glass, in a country with sparse histories of political violence.

The October Crisis. Paul Chartier. The Siege of Montreal, and the burning of York.

Idle No More, and a frustration building to boil.

Years earlier, I met another Prime Minister while walking down Wellington Street, close enough to have done almost anything. But who was the last person who even did anything?

I can’t even remember.


How to write of what is completely natural: the baby grows, sixteen weeks. We discuss names, don’t yet having come to any agreement. Not yet having decided if we will request to know the gender.
            At our next scan: what does it matter? It might facilitate naming, focus our attention on a single short-list, instead of two. The corners where our disagreements hold might be irrelevant. Think of the time we’d save, I suggest.

And waiting to be surprised: won’t we be surprised either way?

Dandelion fluff. Hundreds of seedlings, following the ebbs and gullies of air current over the trees. The air was thick.
            A flock of white, intent with purpose, direction. Each one floating aimless, until a sweep of wind stream corrals and direct.


From a newspaper photograph, Bobby Orr leaps sideways into the air, soars over the ice, celebrating an infamous goal. Recalculating.

When she selected a kitten from their local Humane Society, he already had digestive issues. The regular kitten food quickly replaced with more expensive bags of medicated kibble.

He can see right through you, she says. I find that difficult to swallow.

She says, I asked you to prepare dinner, not invent it.


Twenty weeks: offered the option of discovering gender, we accept. If baby decides to cooperate.

Everyone guesses: boy. How baby appears to rest, in the belly. We know the difference.

My father, his two slices of white bread, and bowl of maple syrup. One wipe.

In the beginning, there weren’t even words.


I can say it now: I hate Christmas music.

Veterans complain, suggest stores restrain further than the boundary of Hallowe’en, to the end of Remembrance Day. The feeling their day washed away in an annual yuletide commercial flood.

The trudge from mall entrance to the edge of the parking lot.

December snow: a mist. Coats the seams in the sidewalk, across car hoods, and catches in corners.

One must stand for something.


Moira posts a photo to twitter, via instagram. She and her favourite aunt a weekend in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to prepare for what comes.
            The southern heat applies pressure upon her chest. She has to remember to breathe. It does not come natural. Air conditioning saves her. That, and virgin daiquiris.

We model our love on the unread book. There will always be more. It can’t be enough. Our love is endless, boundless, held up in boxes, on shelves, on stacks on the floor.

We are held to our Canadian-ness, even if we don’t follow the stereotypes. Hockey, maple syrup, Tim Hortons. I am indifferent to both hockey and winter, a child who preferred to remain indoors and survey the landscape from the safety of window.
            Still: a dull grey sun over sparkling snow is still beautiful.


Moira sleeps, unadorned. The cat wanders in. I navigate around, a wide berth.

News reports on the oil sands. If they could, they would monetize the air itself. What did the newspaper say?

The front of our car, absorbed into the snowbank. A light rain, coating all with a chill, and a layer of ice.
            By dusk, it had learned how to sparkle. Reflecting the moon.

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

Moira’s skin, always cold to the touch. Mine radiates heat. Sleepy, she reaches out.

1 comment:

Robin McLachlen said...

Really enjoyed this.