Three cool Septembers ago I leaned in close as a man who had been prophesied told his story. I leaned in for a kiss, but I got his story. And the story lit a fire in me. Kisses came and went. The story endured.
I put fingers to keys and thought, maybe this is it, maybe this is the story, maybe this is how I can tell my story without telling it. I’ll show it through the eyes of the man. And then no one will know it’s actually my story. That’s how it works, right?
I have always written. Poems, short stories, boxes of chapters from never finished novels. I’ve even had a little publishing success – some poems in Poetry Toronto, an inclusion in bill bissett’s, end of the world speshul, a short story in Cross Canada Writers’ Quarterly, but for two decades I hadn’t even attempted to present my work to the world. I’d lost my voice. Or at least set it to the side.
This story fired up all that had lay smoldering for years. So, I began by writing a poem:
barely a handful,
her tiny heart
of hummingbird wings
He longed for her voice, her weight,
with her and
attending with delicate precision,
his daughter, Brigitte
Now, his heart wraps around her
like the chords of a melody
he longs to sing,
so that he could bring her home
She was a four-pound premature baby that the mother instantly discarded, only to come around two years later and snap the child away from him, under the pretence of shared parenting, only to slowly poison the child against the father. At the time we met, he hadn’t seen his daughter in three years. To me, that was a story worth the telling. How, was another matter. A novel. Yes. I had the storyline, the main character, the evil wife and the objective. Should be a cinch. It was so romantic. A noble father who wanted to care for his child. It was a novel idea for a novel. The last book I read where a father cared about his child was David Gilmour’s, A Perfect Night to go to China. Oh, and Nino Ricci’s, Origin of Species. Now both of the heroes in these stories weren’t exactly model fathers. And I knew that I couldn’t make my protagonist a saint, either. But he would show a face that was noble and heart-full, if somewhat naive.