winter dreaming at the end of the old year

crossing the bridge

Last night I dreamed so vividly of a place my family lived in the 1950s, at the foot of Poignant Mountain, and a drive across the Fraser River to Mission City. I dreamed and woke and couldn’t believe how the years had passed.

All the mystery of waiting at the river for the bridge to come down, the dark water, the glowing of the beehive burners, the anticipation of an egg salad sandwich and a chocolate milkshake. A crossing I loved. From Matsqui to Mission, from our side of the river to the other. And returning, driving home over the bridge again, from the shadow of the mountains to the open prairie, along Riverside Road, past Miss Kemprud’s where we went for ice-cream during Sunday drives, past the school my younger brother attended, past the hall where, at the age of five, I’d been in a fashion show—I modelled a tartan skirt and short-sleeved sweater from Eaton’s, which I hated and which my mother bought for me afterwards—along Harris Road, then Glenmore, house lights golden in the black fields, turning right on Townshipline Road until we reached our own driveway, the quiet barn with its sleeping cows, and the sound of frogs loud in the slough. I’ve turned a dream into a memory. But in fact both are the same.

Across dark water, I went from childhood to adolescence. The house at the end of the row by the radio base was not the house we returned to from Mission City in the dream that was also a memory. It was a white house on a farm on a long road, but that road led back to the foot of Poignant Mountain, forgotten and then found, lard pails stained by blueberries and abandoned on the verge, a small girl huddled in the cool bunker where the milk waited to be collected and where I wait now with her for the end of the world.

— from “Poignant Mountain”, Euclid’s Orchard, published by Mother Tongue Publishing, 2017.

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