Before Time Began












My Mom

My Mom…

(at least according to the aunts and uncles talking,

me, the child, playing with dolls or scrabbling under the table

lost in my Gretel forest...

ignored or invisible?)

….was uppity

Didn’t know her place

No defence.

Not for my Mom,

For such words were never put directly to her,

And not for the child,

For children have no defence












Just a Girl

She was just a girl

Small, slight, blond, bland

Laughing & walking in the line-ups at elementary school

Hand in hand with another girl, other hand covering her mouth whispering secrets

Her hand held under her armpit, sullen

If with a boy

Just a girl I didn't know, didn't care about

Until the boy with the same name as my Daddy

Disappeared

After

After I saw that girl different

I watched her, furtively

Out of the corner of my eyes instead of merely noticing her because she was in the scope of my vision

I noticed her off in the distance on the playground

And wondered

Wondered what the girls she played with asked

Wondered what she told them

After our town paper screamed of his disappearance

After all the people in the town had gone out looking for the boy

After her Daddy had been convicted for trying to extort money from the parents of the boy

After all the publicity in our small town

Screamed of the extortion

Screamed of the arrest

Screamed of the trial

After listening to my Mom & Dad and my Aunts & Uncles and their friends talk about the disappearance

After I thought maybe the boy with the same name as my Daddy hadn't really been kidnapped

But had run away

He was retarded

We called people like him that then

But he wasn't that retarded, just a little bit slow and the son of the big boss mine man

They lived in the big house

After I thought maybe the boy with the same name as my Daddy had run away to become someone else

After all those things had happened I watched the girl

Who was the daughter of the man who tried to extort money from the parents of the boy who disappeared

After all that I watched the girl more closely

In the end she left town too

Moved away I suppose so she could be just a girl

Once again












All I know is This

Nestor Northumberland Nelson was a gentle young man

with golden hair that watered down his back

His voice was low and always soft, his hands were gentle in every way

His eyes were liquid and seemed removed to some small quiet far off place

Nestor Northumberland Nelson was a young man in the 60's

His mind was slow, sweet, warm, soothing and kind

His thoughts were of a simple life, small pleasures and quiet peace

Nestor Northumberland Nelson was caught with one joint in 1969 and then spent 9 months in the slammer

His successive reactions were bewilderment, fear, resignation and hate

His time in the slammer was largely uneventful except he was raped

Nestor Northumberland Nelson came out of the slammer and his voice was still low and soft but his eyes weren't liquid anymore

His mind and his thoughts were cool, sad, resigned and hard

His desire for a simple life and small pleasures remained

but the quiet peace had been successfully removed

Etcetera



We were on vacation driving through the Okanagan Valley

Which according to my Time Atlas of the World (Compact Edition)

Is open shrub lands (I think)

It's hard to tell the exact colour

(On the tiny map, my eyes older, the light dim)

It could be croplands (It is croplands)

Fruit trees, peaches, cherries & pears (Tomatoes too!)

(Etc)

My Mom & Dad were in the front seat of the car

My Grandpa Odinsen, my brother Garry & I were in the back

We were all a little weary

Hot

The Okanagan is hot (In the summer)

In the winter, middling winter (It gets the occasional cold snap below 20 degrees)

Not as cold as the Cariboo (Not as mild as the Coast)

(Fair bit of snow)

We had watched mountain passes

Through the car window

And semi-deserts

Had had a sandwich lunch & a campfire breakfast

And had driven hard

In a crowded hot car

For miles & miles

(Miles & miles)

Miles & miles

"Look!" my Mom said

"Turn in there. See that sign!"

And she pointed to a large sign

A hundred yards

Behind

Professional lettering (Three bright colours)

A picture on it (Of a TeePee)

"Where!?" my Dad barked

Weary too

Hot, tired, stiff (Confined)

"To the right Frank. It's not a government camp

The sign said it's a KeeWee camp."

"What the hell is a KeeWee camp" GrandPa Odinsen

Rumbled up

From the right hand side (Window seat)

Me in the middle (The hottest)

My brother beside me on the left (His hand out the window)

"They're a privately owned camp site" my Mom explained

Often they have showers & sometimes a pool "

A pool!" I piped up

Suddenly enlivened (By even the thought)

Of cool, blue, silky, wet, cool, weightless (Water)

"Oh can we, oh can we, oh can we!" I chattered "

We'll see" my Mom replied calm "

We'll see" GrandPa Odinsen replied ominously

"We'll see" my brother Garry mumbled so quietly only I could hear

My Dad swung his head to the back seat (I became quiet)

We turned off the paved road & travelled down a winding dirt one

Entered trees & a patch of groomed grass

And passed a children's playground

My heart fluttered & I leaned over my brother

Looking longingly at the slide

He pushed me back roughly (I squealed)

GrandPa's hand flicked up (ForeFinger raised)

Mom turned 'round (And scowled)

Dad growled (I shrunk in my seat)

"Over there Frank" my Mom pointed this time

At a concrete block building with a sign over the door that said

Office (I could read)

Dad went through a gate

Around a circular driveway

Past the building labelled office

And parked in a dusty parking lot

Underneath a green hill

And stopped the car

Turned the engine off

We all sat for a few seconds (Silent)

Getting used to the idea of not driving (Not moving through the air)

Hot (Dry hot hot)

Breathing (Hot air)

Dad turned round & looked at GrandPa

Checked out me

And my Brother too

"Well Gwen, what do you think?" he asked my Mother

I looked longingly at the pool (Noticed the showers beside the office)

Checked more thoroughly the slide in the park (And the merry-go-round)

Even my teenage brother had a soft smile on his lips (Watching the pretty girl at the pool)

"Looks fine to me Frank" my Mother said

With more enthusiasm in her voice

Than she should

GrandPa grunted (Dad made to get out of the car)

"I don't like me here" GrandPa mumbled

Dad swung open the car door (Letting in the heat)

"I don't like me here" GrandPa said louder

My Mom said "What?"

"I don't like me here!" my GrandPa said with no doubt in the tone of his voice

"I don't like me here!"

My brother groaned (My Dad turned to face GrandPa)

I moaned (My Mother looked straight ahead out the car's front window)

Straight ahead (Without a word)

"I don't like me here" GrandPa said one last time

His arms crossed over his chest

My Dad closed the door

And started up the car again

Drove past the office

Around the circular driveway

Past the pool & the patch of grass

Up the dirt road until we hit the highway

And then turned right (Or maybe left)






Includes: I Want