When I was ten I went to England
with my mother and younger sister.
It was the Queen's Silver Jubilee. For Monarchists,
you’ll know what a lot of fanfare goes on.
There were “block parties” everywhere—streets closed off
and whole neighbourhoods dancing.
And then the Royal Procession—that golden carriage,
the Queen with her little wave, Prince Phillip
smiling to the crowds of screaming people.
Like rock stars, but with really with good manners.
We did a lot of stuff in England:
went to the Tower of London,
where people used to get their heads cut off or get stretched
on the rack till they split open;
we ran through Trafalgar square,
with the pigeons that no one is allowed to feed anymore.
Going home, my Nan came with us to the airport.
I started to cry and she said; “now there,
brave soldiers don’t cry.”
I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be brave or a soldier
but I tried not to cry
when we had to go on without her.
Next thing I remember
we were at another airport,
probably in Vancouver, and my mum was in a phone booth.
My father was saying; “don’t come home right now.”
He’d decided to leave my mother and put the house up for sale.
Mum, never one to hold it together
under pressure, began to sob, incessantly.
I don’t think it stopped for a year or more.
There wasn't a "For Sale" sign on the lawn when we arrived home.
Apparently Dad had not got it organized. Nonetheless,
he had managed to pack a few things and find somewhere
(I think a girlfriend’s), to stay in the interim—of whatever this was.
My mother, looking for consolation and a shoulder,
understandably reached out to her eldest daughter of twenty-one,
only to find that she had eloped with her boyfriend.
At ten, almost eleven, the last weeks of summer lay before me.
Things were changing rapidly—most notably,
my father would move to a different city, where he’d stay for several years.
I’d get a paper route and buy my first bike with the earnings.
My younger sister withdrew into her art and
my older sister became increasingly isolated
living with an insecure husband who, when laid-off from the mill,
took to selling pot to make the mortgage.
My mum cut her hair and discovered disco.
Life has some strange curve balls.
Never could have seen these coming and not sure
how their spin affected my swing.
Sometimes, even with lousy pitches,
we can hit those balls right out of the park.