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What I Tell No One (Gladys)

Jan Horner
From:   Elizabeth Went West. Turnstone, 1998.


I wanted to run uptown
every night
run away from chores
homework scolding
while Dad was away
take my freedom
run to hear the Marxist speaker

                       home from the Spanish war

the revival meeting

                       and the thrill of someone’s confession

to McKenzie King

                       the Bank of Montreal, front steps
                       his campaign speech jeered

More often I went out to the hens
their exchange of caustic, nagging words
my bitter consolation.

I’d sneak off to the curling rink
or steal my brother’s skates
why should they have first choice
self righteous bullies
they could take the car when Dad was gone
find purple gas run off to Marcelin, a dance
come back smelling of mash
Mother made sure he never found out
her golden boys
they wouldn’t let me kiss Peter
Catholic and Metis
wouldn’t let me marry a soldier
but dallied where they chose
And in the end I slept with whom I wanted
drank what I wanted, spent too much money
voted CCF, or let them think so
does it matter?

Now I want to go home
give up trying to make my son into what I wanted
just let me pick saskatoons with Dad one last time
(not tell a soul)
drive my mother in silence all over my life
show her where I took the wrong turns
drive her back to the time we loved each other
X marks the spot
plant mignonette portulaca
scent it with ripe grain, bergamot
and in peace close the door.



Jan Horner's works copyright © to the author.


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