hot air balloons

“because of her, i laugh more, i dance more, and i notice hot air balloons,” says my friend of her two-year-old daughter, a wisp of a thing with blond hair and bright laughter.

together they walk hand in hand. donned in colourful clothes and big smiles. barrettes in their hair.

later i’m sitting in the car while my friend does her banking. her daughter and i look at each other. suddenly, the little girl begins to laugh, for no apparent reason. leans her head back in her car seat, happiness pouring from mouth and eyes. five minutes of unending giggles. her laughter reminds me of the colour of canola fields–irresistible yellow, stretched like a starched cotton dress under blue skies. mirth splashes sunshine across my face.

and suddenly i see it: the hot air balloon, rising, a bubble of colour above the horizon.

children: squealing, peeling, reeling in the big outdoors, they remind us–life is more than just a shadow.


heaven’s babies

she sat on the floor in white cushion-diaper, baby legs sprawled. playing. her hair, blond curls. her eyes, trenton’s brown. they looked at me, laughed in toddler mischief. i wanted to reach out and touch her skin; her little fat folds. but i couldn’t, for in my arms, a baby boy. faceless. small and wrapped in cloth. i glanced again at the toddler girl building Duplos; then down at the faceless boy, and i awoke. motherless.

i had miscarried the day before the dream. for months, i assumed i’d lost the faceless boy. then, we conceived a baby boy and i wondered–had the vision meant anything? it wasn’t until begging God to show me that i knew: she had been the one i’d lost. she had been our papoose. our beautiful blond-haired little girl. for she was older than her brother. God had shown me a picture of her in heaven.

the boy had been faceless because he was, at that point, unborn. a promise of good things to come.

how many children await in heaven to meet their parents for the very first time?

“for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…”

saskatchewan sunrise

Canola sunshine splashes across the earth in square yellow patches.

Birds fall upwards, pale fingernail clippings against a sheet of aluminum sky.

In the east, the night is rising, shredding shards of metal; beyond it, a second horizon—blue-gold majesty of dawn breaking.

Smell of damp-earth air.

Electric tingles.

Angels seem afoot.

A light shines, setting the stage from somewhere beyond, and then the clouds split entirely, making way for the cast of a glorious day.

beautiful ballerina

her silhouette is black against my kitchen doorway. her back, turned.  she’s swaying, head bobbing, to the music on my laptop. i see the outline of the oversized cardigan i leant her when she arrived. it swallows her up, save for tiny white hands which conduct the air, keeping time.

she’s aware of no one. prefers to stand and stare out the window while she dances. no doubt remembering childhood dance lessons. childhood dreams of becoming a professional dancer. picturing herself pirouetting across the lawn in a lavender dress, her mind perfectly whole, her feet completely cooperative. it’s the picture i have of her when i think of heaven.

there, she will remember how to cook. how to walk. how to form sentences. there, she will recall the names of her favourite flowers. the way it feels to drive a car. to bathe herself.

in heaven, my mother will be a beautiful ballerina. inhibited by nothing. propelled onwards by the song only she can hear.

becoming the other


she, the author of ‘white oleander’, sits humbly in black dress and loppy hat. her face gently amused. i watch her from across the table. the air smells like lake-water. she leans in over the first of our five-course meal and asks me, “who do you suppose they are?”

we turn, two writers, one mind, to watch the couple across the way. together we imagine their lives: she, a tired professor who demands too much. he, a successful businessman, phone glued to ear. we become lost in playing the other.

janet fitch and i. she, who took 10 years to publish a short story. she, who authored a bestseller whose characters find haven within me. i learn from her during the day under italian silk-sky; i, along with 14 others. i, the only canadian, joining the only australian, and 12 americans… together, ink to pad, we form characters which ‘pop.’ narratives which drive. plots which sizzle.

and at night, we imagine alongside our mentors. make muses out of como’s countryside. practice the art of becoming the other.