Because I have spent the last several weeks getting my daughter, my eldest, ready for university in Montreal, I’ve spent a bit of time examining the strands of loss. Loss and pride. Of knowing a job has been well-done. That a job is, indeed, done. I wrote this tiny thing a number of years ago when I was a guest in a home where the daughter had just moved away to college, and I’ve thought about it since.


What She Left Behind

It’s strange, being here, walking in footsteps barely cold, room turning from nursery to fort to sanctuary, to prison to museum to guest room for out-of-towners.

You notice the little things first: named plush animals you’d not pick up at the Sally Anne for fear of vermin, the race number from the physio clinic’s half-marathon, the picture of her at five-years-old, the fireman’s hat clutched to her head with both hands, staring at the camera. Lookitme, lookitme.

I wonder if she still plays the guitar now that she’s gone away, if some newer, bigger version is now in her hands, making music.

The iPod mini is the same model as mine, yet she’s left hers here, an ancient relic, outmoded, unneeded. An unworn copy of The New Our Bodies, Ourselves, because this is what you give them, this is how you want to send them out into the world: intact, whole, ready. You arm them with pulp fictions, old texts forgotten as soon as summer bells ring.

The dreamcatcher. The penguin. A pottery frame made at the You Kiln. A small poster for the movie version of Rent. No longer needed or perhaps, anchors? Forgotten, maybe. Necessary so that return is possible, a back door into a childhood past.

These are the things she left when she went away, these signs of passage into some other body of knowledge, into the basin of next, into the open waters. And behind, in the harbour, we find the ephemeral evidence of her years, trod lightly and held close, heavy and precious as gold.

© rriopelle