A Change of Seasons

Amba sits alone in her brother’s small basement rental, warming her hands around a cup of tea. Bars of weak sunlight dip in through the window, painting stripes on the vinyl flooring and over the pile of laundry she has gathered . . .

the menu in my heart is all wrong

my stare goes from the plate to the dainty language on the menu Golden Baskets, a tiny quintet of brittle pastry shells . . .  then back to my plate, and I wonder what my spice-obsessed hawker-stall friends in Bangkok would think of defrosted veggies baked in cardboard-stiff pastry cups on the Danforth, limits of Greektown, middle of a snowstorm . . .  Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 5 . . .

Tableau Vivant

Clara’s well into her thirties now, but she can hoof it enough for the chorus line, and hold a tune if it’s catchy. It’s her first season touring with Sam T. Jack’s Creoles, “the pre-eminent terpsichorean diversions of the day in the Afro-American line.” (Sam tells the press they’re Egyptians or genuine Louisiana Creoles at least, but the fact is he hired most of them in New York, and picked Clara up when he was passing through Toronto.) The Creoles don’t cork up, and all that dumb-darkie Jim Crow stuff is gone by the wayside . . .

Around the Way

I didn’t realize how big Toronto was until my dad dragged me along on his missions. He’d load me up with toys and candy and tell me to keep my arm inside the opened window. Then the long white Thunderbird would ease out onto Davenport with the latest disco tune pouring out of the eight-track . . .

mud pigeon

There was a time at Dufferin station when the black lines that ridged that mud pigeon’s wings reminded me of wound stripes on a war uniform, and because I saw it everyday stippled with flicked cigarette burns, I started to feel for the dirt thing, think of it sometimes in the dimmed light of long subway rides, its eyes red as a fresh bullet’s entrance . . .  Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 5 . . .

Words, Dancing on My Skin

Her head was slightly tilted and her cigarette dangled from the corner of her mouth. She placed her ear close to the cool, green rind of a watermelon and knocked. She caught me staring. Her coral lips stretched wide to expose her yellow teeth . . .