From Orient. Published by Brick Books in 2014. Gillian Wigmore is the author of three books of poetry, including soft geography, which won the 2008 Relit Award. She lives in Prince George, BC.
After Charles Lillard sometimes you think of her and her shotgun wedding, her dad dancing barefoot till his footsteps bled. you think of her and you think of her sister, who married a mormon elder when they were both fifteen and she was the prettiest, smartest girl in the school before she disappeared and before you thought seriously of burning the whole thing down, then left instead.
you think of her giant farm truck and apples and peanut butter, Simon and Garfunkel blaring from popped speakers, the two of you singing and the road grass all burnt up and hopeless. you think of her mum, who was quiet and worked with troubled youth, and then you think of her with her eyes brimming, the both of you standing dumb in the foyer of the friendship centre holding eyes, not hands, because her mum was thrown from a horse, killed, and you knew no other motherless child your same age.
you stop thinking because it hurts. you’ve spent too much time and words on landscape. you owe them more, you’ve been pretending you don’t belong but all along you’ve known: you’re her, no matter your travels, your schooling, your poems. you know her too well—her and her and you.
it’s self-preservation, all this writing, reminding yourself where you’re not, where you could be, where you’ll finally be: the plot of land above the hospital your great-grandad bought in 1925 to house the whole ramshackle lot of you when you die. You lie staring, wide eyes to the ceiling, remembering, fearing falling to earth, succumbing to the current, to some hometown boy, or some good old-fashioned home birth in Vanderhoof, two miles from the family homestead. cockeyed into the world’s faulty wiring. cased in black silk with gold-leaf lettering and printed on hand-made blue Fabriano paper, each illustration (the story had been illustrated with Tantric paintings) hand-tipped and each copy numbered. Borges asked me to describe it. He listened carefully and then exclaimed: “But that’s not a book, that’s a box of chocolates!” and proceeded to make a gift of it to the embarrassed postman.