Intention for 2019 - Stay Salamander Slow

The tissue I’ve just blown into quivers like a ragged dog rose through the slant of my tears. A fucker of a lurgy. ‘You’re pathetic’, laughs my daughter. I agree with her. I’m done. I lie, day after day, through Christmas and Hogmanay, like a hibernating salamander, all stillness and getting-softer surrender. Sometimes a coughing fit hardens my body. I have an inkling of silver linings to do with stopping. Buddhists say busyness is a form of laziness. I note that here in my bed I am not busy. Nor am I lazy. I am thinking. In the middle of the night, swallowing pills down a swollen throat, I think about First Nations people, how they died from the common cold virus. I imagine the hell of that. I know I’m not going to die, I have a nasty bug, I also have heaps of immunity. 

    My heart races when the pills get stuck and I gag. It races when I think some more about dying. It races when I remember Mum choking in her last week when swallowing had become a monstrous feat. I think about her telling me years before how she’d done a past life regression. How she’d experienced giving birth in a tipi; it had been a beautiful birth, she’d said, she was glad to know what a straightforward birth felt like. I have a friend who calls me Inuit. We rub noses sometimes. We wouldn’t want to do that just now. Have I too had a past life on another continent, one that perhaps ended on a gut-deep sneeze in the glistening air of an igloo, under the liquid weight of seal furs. 

    On Christmas Day I download ‘Lake Ontario Park’, Audio Poem of the Day, even though the tittle doesn’t call me - the word 'park' puts me off. But when the poem starts I sit up. General Geoffrey Anhurst stated in a letter dated July 16th 1763 PS You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this exorable race. The pulse in my neck jumps. The poet unhurriedly lays down lines that shine like sea-run salmon:

Immune is a sung word skirting sorrow…The day is robin’s eggshell fine.


I look out of the window and see woodsmoke dropping down a sky that is just that, robin’s eggshell fine. In the quiet after the poem my husband’s sigh lifts up the stairs to me. Later, I know I’m getting better when I say hello to the cat, how when she says hello back my heart lifts. I settle down in the darkness, fingers buried in fur soft as forest-floor moss, feeling the tilt towards the spring equinox. I’ll be up and about again soon. Right now I’ll savour this time, building immunity to busyness, bedding in my new resolve to take things slower.