About me and this blog

I was born on a native reserve in Ontario, grew up on the west coast of Vancouver Island (as far west as you can go without running out of Canada), came of age in Mexico City. Between times, I lived in the Fraser Valley, Texas, Seattle, Oklahoma, Bella Coola, on the BC north coast, and the Fraser River Delta, just south of Vancouver. For now, I'm "settled" in Campbell River, on Vancouver Island.

I have a boatload of stories to tell. These are some of them.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Three dreams: Dream Two

I was at a poetry reading in the park. We were using a large wooden platform with a greenish tarp for shelter overhead and behind us. A small audience sat on folding chairs or on the grass.

Others had read; it was my turn.

My poem was long, printed out in irregular stanzas, one per page. Large print, for easy reading without glasses. I began.

I hadn't looked at the poem since I had printed it out, and now, reading it, I was pleased. It was good stuff, if a little obscure.

But wait! I had done a companion piece, hadn't I? Kind of a series of mini-essays, to be read alternately with the stanzas of the poem. I apologized to my audience and stooped down to my black loose-leaf, on the edge of the platform. But the pages were not where I expected them. I leafed through the bound pages, then through the pockets. Twice. Nothing there.

In the other loose-leaf. Of course! "Sorry, everyone. Just a minute," I said. The second binder was down on a chair in the front row; I climbed down and retrieved the essays, took a deep breath.

Back on the platform, the poem had gone missing. I had left it on the stand, now empty. "Did anyone pick up my poem?"


Maybe I had put it in the binder when I was looking for the essays, I thought. Back to the edge of the platform, back to the chair. No poem.

"Sorry for the delay, folks."

I would read the essays, instead; I hoped they would stand alone.

They would, sort of. They were well-written little pieces, only tangentially related to the stanzas of the poem, meanderings about home and memories and life in this crazy world. Gentle and accepting little nuggets, too gentle. The bite would have been in the contrast with the poem. If I could find it.

My audience was drifting off, heading for the hot-dog stand, the other exhibits. Half the chairs were empty. The people who had stayed were probably there out of some sense of loyalty; personal friends, my kids' in-laws from Bella Coola, my grandchildren. I was embarrassed to hold them, but I continued reading; what else could I do?

I needed that poem. And I had some pictures, illustrating the essays; where were they?

"Kids, did any of you see that poem? And some pictures I drew? Big ones?"

While I read, they bustled around, searching. Finally one of the kids came up to the platform with some papers he found in the back of the pickup truck that would carry away the chairs.

"Is this it, Grandma?"

Yes, but it was too late. The in-laws had gone for lunch; there was only one person still seated. My aunt. And she would not approve of the poem.

The kids liked the pictures; they had divided them among themselves. "Can we keep them, Grandma?"
Sure. Why not? What did it matter?

I rescued one drawing, two Mexicans in bright clothes against a blue Mexican sky. Well done, if I said so myself. Worth keeping.


When I woke up, I could remember everything clearly: the planks on that wooden platform, the disorganized papers in my binder, the feet of the chairs making holes in the lawn, my aunt's dress. My picture, the one I'm keeping. But not the poem. Not a word of the poem.

Stories from Alternate Realities
© Susannah Anderson, 2000

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