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Monday, 2 October 2017

Reading A Tribute to Orange in New West

Video of Me Reading at the Long Poem Event

A Tribute to Orange 

the changing leaves 
in the cherry tree by my balcony
welcoming cooler mornings
of coffee and cream, 
the moon in harvest time
tea and tiny cakes, 
my first Mid-Autumn Festival
in an apartment in Burnaby
as I tutored students in poetry,

the generosity of the girls 
serving me with two open palms
and sending me home with extra 

the colour of the tie-dyed skirt 
I admired in the window 
of a high end Granville shop
forty-five dollars I didn’t have 
that whole summer
years later I returned 
and purchased an orange top at Roots
that I wear with the memory 
of the window skirt 
from the summer of ‘97
when I had been sleeping 
on two separating couch cushions 
in a smoky basement
amazed at the possibility 
of a new life in BC
the first time I saw 
a four dollar coffee
spending all of 
what I had left of my savings 
on beverages at Starbucks
for the family that housed me 
in their basement
the light of the sun 
as I purchased my first book in BC 
Timothy Findley’s Memory 
at a second-hand store on Granville
eight dollars a shock –
eight times more than what we charged 
at the Book Market in my old hood
and totally worth every last dollar

the hue of fall 
when I returned to BC for work
and the moon I fell in love under
in my thirties off Commercial Drive
my Wiccan boyfriend 
singing tunes to the spirits
through all nighters and essays
student teaching
and me falling in love 
despite the fact he was leaving 

the embers in a film 
I saw in kindergarten
how they held me in meditation
the first time I lost myself 
into a moving image
like I had with the orange and yellow angel 
in the Advent calendar
I stared at her so long
perhaps seeking 
my spirit self
the shaman within

the colours of the healing chakra light
in my raven dream 
sparks of yellow and orange 
as children danced 
safely in a circle 
and my spirit protected them
my calling to become raven
he didn’t miss the colours at all
he is all of them

the pencil I chose for the triangles 
in my grade eight math book
the notebook I sat up 
in the early morning 
redoing in bed
in fear it was not neat enough 
the first time
the light orange shade calming 
my anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder 

the piece of cloth
we got for two dollars in Montreal
covered in stars 
and the candle I got to match
how I imagined it 
as the floor of the mud hut
in my first novel of street life
before it travelled with me into videos 
of loss and healing
and finally the student productions of 
Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream

the colour of the first image
I imagined in French
when I was tutoring a beloved student
who could read my mind 

the shiny hue I chose 
for my first pedicure
and admired all summer 
barefoot at English Bay
soft sand between white toes
and a rhinestone that I valued 
like a diamond

October in the Elgin Street Park
where my grandparents met
the roses my Australian friend painted
when I presented them to her 
a hostess gift for the home cooked dinner, 
preceding their children’s evening recital

my favourite Cotton Ginny shirt
my grandparents bought me in Florida 
the day we sampled fresh squeezed juice 
in tiny cups from the back of the truck
my grandma’s adoration even richer
than all the light of Miami 

the cover of my beloved
Alice Walker poetry book
painted like the walls
of my Thirteenth Avenue apartment

the glow of the neighbor’s porch light 
through rain
amber warmth reflected in puddles
like Paris café candles in the night

the first colour I see
mixed with violet
when I close my eyes