Mister Canada

One morning, a year after my family’s arrival in Canada, I stood in our basement, looking at my reflection in the mirror. The powder blue shirt I was wearing was part of my work uniform and it made me look sallow, a pallidness intensified by the neon light above . . .

A Cardboard Box

Sometimes, especially after a harsh, long Canadian winter, it seems as though spring will never come, that it has frozen to death somewhere deep in the ground, buried inside an eternal shroud of glittering ice. It’s a mid April morning, and my three children, Bahram, Baba and Behzad, wave to me from the dirty windows of the yellow school bus . . .

Plotting Home

Despina woke up and poured herself a cup of coffee so weak it looked like tea. Incapable of doing anything leisurely, she guzzled it back and looked over her shoulder. She wasn’t supposed to drink coffee because the caffeine was bad for her osteoporosis, leaching minerals from her already brittle bones, but during the week when her daughter wasn’t visiting there was no one to report to on dietary matters . . .

First Dance

When I found out that Julia Orpana was organizing our school dance, I knew I had to be there. I asked my friend John Kelly if he’d go with me. I was standing in the noisy kitchen of his place on Spadina Avenue near Bloor Street, waiting for him to walk me the rest of the way to school . . .

When We First Arrived in Toronto

parts of Italy were intact, like ways of looking at the snow. it was in the eyes, the Tuscan light, the way it made the snow explode, and wood, and iron railings and soot; it was in the eyes, and through the spirit, and spirit loved the world and was not alien to it and so the festive was a box of chocolates or any homely thing in the world, for nothing could resist the song of a boy’s heart . . .  Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 1 . . .

Nylon-Encased Flesh

I wake up, body splayed across the mattress in a starburst. Sunlight. Then rain. Then resurrected sunlight. The men on a neighbouring roof are hammering sadistically out of time. Bang. Pause. Bang bang. Pause. Pause. Bang bang pause . . .

Vanishing Father

When Bing Hum got home late that evening from Harris, Smythe & Hum LLP, he found his fifteen-year-old daughter watching a movie-of-the-week that starred Lucy Liu in yet another of her “Asian slut” roles. Frozen in the doorway of Jade’s bedroom, he stared at the flat-screen TV screen where Lucy Liu, worse than nude in a half-bra, garter belt and stockings, lap-danced for a hairy-chested maintenance worker, her pinecone breasts thrust forward, her long waist undulating like the belly of a serpent . . .

Home aka Snap Shots

She doesn’t remember the exact date, only that it was a weeknight, early spring, 1983; it was dark outside. She closed the door and locked it. Turned around and quickly checked the windows across the street . . .


toronto is amsterdam adrift at sea it breathes the open atlantic where lines and angles blur and bend into mist toronto is prague without her anchoring of narrow streets narrow sky and virgin-tight apartment blocks it is london long-jumping her imperial shadows trafalgar-ing into space . . .  Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 1 . . .


for eight months, i shifted swayed in weekly motion left union station expectant & wondrous entered kingston still stretching away the slumber of deep morning— the train knocking its rhythmic time upon my restful cheek (i am happiest when moving) . . .  Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 1 . . .

Remembering Max

He was washing the windows when I came in: a brown stick with big eyes and a ’fro on a ladder, wiping the glass with one hand and continually hiking his pants up with the other . . .

The Fast Lane

Toronto, 1994 Sharda takes her time entering the water. She sets her modestly exposed brown bottom on the cold white tiles lining the edge of the indoor pool. Blinding shafts of light bear down through tall windows . . .