Monday, May 7, 2012

Day One Hundred Sixty-One: Walking Sick in the Rain

I wake this morning and the wind is whipping water at the windows. I swear the trees are running around the coulee with their arms in the air, like kids playing in the rain. I've been sick since last Thursday, like, really sick. Michael had to rescue my students, bring them home from our writing camp at Dallas Valley because I couldn't even stand up. I cried when he said Victoria and Tyler were coming along to drive me and the Envoy home.

It's raining, like really raining. I'm not one hundred percent, but I've missed three days of school. I have to go. But do I have to walk? I stay in bed until 6:40. It's stupid to walk semi-sick in the rain, but I think about all those little kids in residential school, and when they were sick, did they get to opt out? I think about people who have been treaty walking their whole lives, in sickness and in health, in rain or shine.

I pull my hair into a pony tail. I pack my suitcase for the week and put it by the front door for Michael to bring to school. I dress. I find the umbrella. I find the small umbrella and Arwen's pink rubber boots that I just I found under five loads of laundry in her bedroom, and put those by the front door for my baby. I look through the dark closet, and my hikers are not in the pile of flip flops, sandals, boots, slippers, runners. Then I remember, they're sitting on the boot rack at Dallas Valley. I pull on my ugly, old runner boots, gear up, and step out the door.

The wind and rain have agreed on a direction, so I point my umbrella like a shield and walk. The air is aroma therapy. The colours -- mint, rust, and lime leaves against red, black, and grey bark -- are wet with drama. Everything is okay as I walk. Everything is more than okay, but this reminds me of the irony of my treaty walk, even as I step into this metaphorical storm, I carry my privilege with me. Anyone driving by would pick me up, out of my wet walk, rescue me over and over and over.

I remember a poem I wrote a few years ago in the doctor's office right before Char's wedding, my ear infected so bad I could hardly hear.


the brown voices
hang in the white doctor air
beyond the curtain
of my sandy-blonde bangs

the man says,
took me thirty-nine years to realize
it wasn’t my parents’ fault

the woman says,
I remember hiding under the kitchen table
and then they
            (priests in robes
            nuns in habits
            agents in suits)
grabbed me
and pulled me out

the man says,
my parents had stuff to deal with
did the best they could

            how can I begin a poem
            with my face down
            while dirty white laundry
            lays invisible on the coffee table
            with the magazines and children’s toys
            and my first concern only
            what they might be saying
            about me

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