I live about forty minutes from the city. The drive is along a quiet secondary highway once busy and well maintained now a cracked pitted and potholed stretch of derelict pavement. Century old farmhouses haunt the route barns in every imaginable state bungalows from the seventies abandoned gas stations schoolhouses motels and monolithic slabs where buildings once stood. Fields have largely returned to pioneer growth forests fireweed and goldenrod. A cemetery without headstones just flat inscribed marble pads larger than life statues of Jesus kneeling down nailed up risen from the dead plastic flowers in plastic vases stuck lopsided into the ground. About halfway to town is a lumberyard. An unusual place because you never see a soul yet there are always neatly piled carefully covered stacks of lumber. Once an untended bonfire blazed.
This morning I saw a giant in the yard. I was driving to a meeting with a new client and he was standing by a row of two by fours broad back to the road head down wearing a black tailored suit. His hair thick grey and shoulder length. At first I thought he was a tarp blown off the pallets but he was nothing like that at all. I squeezed the brake. He slowly turned his head and looked at me. Solemn. I pulled onto the shoulder parked and got out. He straightened to full height stretched his shoulders back and turned to face me. I stared for a long time and eventually he spoke.
You will be late is what he said.
What are you doing here I asked.
Looking at the lumber wishing someone could help me.
There’s never anyone. I don’t understand it.
Perhaps they only stockpile here and sell it elsewhere.
I suppose.
He took a hanky the size of a pillow case from his pocket blew his nose and teared up.
Allergies he said.
I’ve never seen you before.
I usually stay well hidden. I don’t know what got into me this morning.
You’re quite a sight.
You’re going to be late he replied.

The Knowing

A young man died years ago in the park where I walk Solomon. Though the cause is unknown I know his death was clean and gentle no foul play or suicide. He walked the park as I do and one day knew it was the end. No one was aware of his disappearance or even existence. A true missing person. I would like to name him for this telling but know that would be wrong. I have no idea of his identity or evidence of anything. My family and former friends were amused and entertained at first then worried embarrassed and annoyed. Now they avoid me.
My name is Rosemary. I am twenty eight years old and manage a fishing tackle and camera store that my father owned and operated before he retired and sold it to his friend who kept me on. Someday I will own it. Unfortunately and unfairly there are a lot of rumours flying around about my stability. With the exception of this one unusual story and obsession there is nothing whatsoever to warrant concern. The paperwork was written up for me to take over the store when the dead young man in the park thing began to get out of hand. Why couldn’t I just drop it? Their words not mine.
Growing up my family tented at Dagger Creek Park until we were the only ones left. They closed the campground and turned it into a picnic park before abandoning it altogether. On hot summer days locals still seek the hidden pools for swimming. Friday night teens come to get drunk and sometimes busted.  A few of us walk our dogs and the occasional fisherman is still found wandering the creek’s edge. Last autumn after the leaves fell dry curled and wind scattered I had the notion of him. Saw him standing black and white white collarless shirt bone buttoned to the neck baggy wool pants knee deep in the yellow grass between maple and ash bare branches scratching the grey sky. I knew his story then and there. Nothing spoken and it was not a haunting. Rather a thought that crosses your mind large and complete that words try but cannot capture. I never saw him like that again. Maybe I would have dropped it if he hadn’t given form to a feeling I always had at Dagger Creek even as a girl fishing or poking the fire.
Why am I so insistent on talking about this when I should know better? Because it matters. Matters to who they say bored exasperated and touchy. Just drop the stupid fucking thing already is what they say. Also I am trying to understand and hold onto something important before it’s gone again. The knowing.
Imagine that my mother and father are celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary and throwing a huge party. Over three hundred family friends and local dignitary are invited. I was asked but they are rolling their eyes praying dear god that I am a no show. Eventually I walk into the rented hall the band stops mid waltz dancers seated guests and guys lined up at the bar stop turn and stare. I am standing there with Solomon at my side. Cupped in one hand dirt under chipped nails is a brown spotted skull. Cradled in my other arm frail limbs dangling the decayed skeleton that will later be identified as a young man mid twenties dead since the fifties. Although I make people nervous I will no longer be considered mad but rather curious interesting perhaps even gifted. We would all know.
If I did find trace I would touch but never disturb him reveal or tell a soul. Chances are I would stop talking about it all the time. Eventually we might all forget and move on.

The Closet

Celine stepped into the closet closed the door reached touched and pulled the dusty white string. A vague twenty-five watt glow yawned yellow onto the walls shelves barely illuminating her face and shoulders she leaned her back against the door and slid to the shadowy floor not meaning to fall asleep.
What would possess an adult male with a reasonable job pounding nails sawing sanding caulking and levelling boards to wander barefoot in the woods ducking behind trees dodging looking listening growling quietly at any notion of fear? He would take handfuls of pine needles press and roll them between his palms inhale the forest broken open rub the scent on his skin carry on walking running flowing through moonlight and shadow eventually lying down feeling stone and root beneath him staring at stars through a ragged frame of rustling silhouettes. Once two hawks followed him for a day wherever he went he could see them watching from treetops and rooftops billboards high poles power lines even the stained statue of a city father settling on an outstretched arm behind a perfect wave of fleeing pigeons. He pulled off the main road drove slowly down the long potholed driveway and parked beside the towering two by six by eight by ten assemblage of rafters beams studs and joists that were gathering into a home. It was early and the rest of the crew had yet to arrive. He walked up the sturdy plank ramp into the house across to the sheeted-in closet where the power tools were stored turned the knob and pushed the door but something on the other side prevented him from opening it.
Funny the things you remember Paul thought standing in the hallway of the small apartment building he and his wife owned a million miles away from his time as a carpenter in rural Ontario. He was trying to push open the storage closet door but something inside must have fallen against it. What he had no idea wondering also about the light left on spilling through the crack and why he left this single space in the entire place derelict. The latter he knew was an offering to the history of the restored building some kind of shrine or testament a nod to what was. He put his shoulder to the door and pushed. Careful not to damage whatever was on the other side.

Caribou Crossing

At four fifteen Dory opened his eyes to the semidarkness. Outside a car door slammed voices tires spinning on gravel sweep of headlights across the yard through the window momentary patch of white on walls and ceiling shadow of caribou antlers long and curving makes no sense at all. Shallow breathing chest rising and falling under eiderdown eyes close his mind returning inward away and back.
His desktop background is a black and white photograph of the DuChamp brothers sitting in a garden in 1914. Painter printmaker sculptor shit disturber. Marcel tips forward on his wicker chair. All three look directly at the camera. Raymond ever so slightly blurred pats a black and white dog four years before dying of typhoid fever in a military hospital at Cannes. Dory staring through the familiar image distant and drifting coffee cooling in a cup beside his hand looks up to see Margarita who they call MJ watching him across the top of her monitor. Earth to Dory she says smiling.
Their eyes meet and linger beyond the casual glance of friends and colleagues for years comfortable and secure tilting for an instant into something less familiar. He had never actually noticed her eyes before wheat coloured with flecks of hazel. Dory smiled briefly blinked scratched his head rolled his shoulders and stretched. You’re quite beautiful. She laughs replies yeah right and returns to the illustration she is trying to finish. Come here and tell me what you think of this.
Margarita has added a woodland caribou to the image she is creating for a magazine article about the things we remember.
Jesus he says slightly shaken. Where did the caribou come from?
I have no idea. It just crossed my mind. Kind of fits though.
He has a hand on the back of her chair she looks up over her shoulder.
It does but you will need a better answer when Marie asks.
Asks what? says the editor walking into the office around the desk for a look. The things we remember. What emerges remains becomes part of our story. What do we keep always close she says looking at Margarita’s illustration. A chrome kitchen table driftwood branch starfish dangling on a string in a chipped vase detailed knickknacks on a homemade shelf book spines suggesting titles small entwined flowers and leaf patterned wallpaper. Through a window of multiple panes the edge of a forest wooden slat fence boards banged into a ragtag fort no girls allowed almost distinguishable shapes in shadow and in the middle of it all
What’s with the caribou?
I can get rid of it says Margarita. Or maybe not.


I wonder what would happen thought Willy standing in his pyjamas on the edge of the pier counting stars on the still surface of the sea looking up and down and up again. If I jumped would I swim or fly whispered as a giant codfish rising cracked the heavens and swallowed him whole.
Lillian MacIsaac sitting on the edge of her bed watching Willy out so late caught her reflection in the window. Long straight hair face in shadow glitter stars and planets on a purple nightgown. Willy the wharf and sea blurred beyond she shifted her view just as a giant cod rose and swallowed him whole.
Thomas MacIsaac took the stairs six at a time her scream shaking neighbours and dogs from quiet dreams to startled bark and shout great blue heron lifted off the surface cormorants razorbills and common eider he threw open the door burst into the room. Too late for she was gone.
Sketch was a mongrel shepherd collie and mountain dog. His black and carmel fur soft and heavy eyes brown and friendly. He looked from the wharf to the upstairs window. Silhouette and shadow scent of cod splash and scream and he began to bay.