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I saw Stewart and Maud under a locust tree in Kensington market.
They had new bicycles. She leaned her sweaty, curly head on his bicep.
They had baguettes, flowers, asparagus and apples from the farm booths in their packs,
Buzet and Minervois from the liquor store, library books. They had life-loving things.
He says that for him this new life is instead of being an artist in Paris:
Backpacks, bicycles, the look of young lovers. The little possessions
That don't feel like a car or a house.  They are wearing bright white t shirts
And denim overalls. His children are confused. They have little money.
He joined the many who have refused to be punished for a mistake.

My friend Stewart lives with a university student.
You get to their Annex apartment up iron stairs bolted to the
Outside of  a building of old brick coloured like a driftwood campfire. The bed's iron.
She's been an adult for seven years. Iron, bricks, flowers, white iron bed,
Stewart has the skills to make it good, he's done this before, made the Muskoka
Chairs, the harvest tables, and sold them, repaired window frames and doors,
Advertised in supermarkets. He likes to breathe, to drink water, to cut wood and dress it,
To study, to read, to live well with a woman, to write in the evening, to make life like art.

                                       Paul Anthony Hutchinson
                                       copyright Paul Anthony Hutchinson
 Dec 2018 Oli
 Dec 2018 Oli
Jim died last night, slipped away like the slimmest embers of light that, from time to time, would reach their arms through the clouds to show themselves. I wonder where he is glowing, if he kindled his spirit to the stars, the gray moon, the forever burning sun.

I stared into his empty room last night, the air a silent breath synced with mine, and it felt so unexpected, it felt wrong and cruel and hostile. I didn’t get to say goodbye.

When I walked home the next morning, I felt like my lips had meant to mutter some form of plea into that void space that were all cradled together by a wrinkled blanket we had not yet washed.

I left the newspaper out for him.

8 a.m shrieking birds and gravel crunching underneath my worn shoes. The morning tan wasted down to the fragmented hairs of fog that settled their bodies over the ******* of earth and I kept my eyes shut to refuse to let loose something I felt I had no control over.

At 9:30, I crawled into bed, thinking of where the sun was at his placing now, thinking of the hiding stars, the seemed to be gone, moon, and I prayed that Jim had made it to the other side.
when you subject yourself to work with the near dead, you offer up a part of your heart to carry theirs.
 Dec 2018 Oli
Em MacKenzie
Happy belated birthday Mom,
I'm sorry it's two days late,
but I've been a bad daughter
and an even worse person.
You always told me not to go to your grave or put flowers on your headstone;
"I won't be under that ground," you'd say,
"and don't waste your money on flowers, I'll have no use for them where I'm going."
I still visit sometimes, and I do still bring flowers, but not nearly enough.
I know if I had been the one buried, you'd wear the grass down with your feet and then have the courtesy to plant some seeds.

Almost eight years later I still think about you everyday
and not a minute goes by where I don't miss you terribly.
What a cruel thing it is, to live a life where you're always missing someone.
To have so many things to say and receive no reply.

You would've been fifty seven this year.
I wonder how you would look as you got older, and sometimes, rarely, I forget what you looked and sounded like when you were here.
That's probably the worst part of it.

The first time I visited your grave was about a month or so after you had been buried,
the graveyard drowning in so much snow I actually visited the wrong headstone.
I'm sure Mr.Brown enjoyed the talk, though.
It was only after digging my bare hands through ten inches of snow and ice that I realized I was four spots down.
I then recognized your grave from the moonlight reflecting off the glass vases of yellow roses we had placed there during your funeral,
wedged in place with the snow hugging them tightly;
the roses frozen in time,
it was both beautiful and aggravating.
Good things funerals cost so much,
they should be able to have someone clean up the plot after the service.
I threw the roses out and gently tried to remove the vases:
the one with "wife" shattered in my hands and my frostbitten fingers picked each shard out from the snow.
I still carry a scar from that vase.
The one with "mother" on it remained in tact, I was just as gentle with it but it did not shatter.
You told me near the end that nothing in this world, nothing was powerful enough to ever have you taken away from me.
That vase sits on my dining room table to this day, nursing a reluctantly dying plant just as you'd want.
I don't think I'll ever have the green thumb like you did.

But I have everything else from you,
you always told me Kate was raised by your sister and that she was too much when you were so young,
"But you, Emily, you're MY daughter."
You said I was a godsend of a baby, never crying, content just to sleep,
and that I carried an old soul.
You laughed at how I always excelled at being alone as a child,
and you were so intrigued by my sense of imagination and creativity.
You always said you were the same when you were a kid.

So tell me, now that I'm older and I feel so alone all the time,
am I still you?
Were you this isolated and alien at my age now?
Did you carry the empathy to cry at little things you saw on the street or in a commercial,
so much so that you believe this world to be lost?
That you saw life as one big slap in the face?

I still try my best everyday to make you proud,
It breaks my heart constantly to think I didn't when you were here.
But life is cruel like that, and I was young and stupid and arrogant.
I know if you see my daily life,
you know I'm not 100% better,
and I know I probably never will be.
But I work hard, and I always say my "please" and "thank you"'s,
and I live by your example of always trying to help anyone in need.
It might not make up for the demons that I struggle with,
but atleast I still fight them, right?
I lost some years there where I should've died, and sometimes I wish I had,
but I didn't. I'm still here. I'm still trying.
And to be honest, it's not for me, or for my family, for love or sunsets, or dogs or any of the things that bring me up to a solid "content."

It's for you, because you taught me that's what you do in life.
You fight. You fight until your last breath.

I've thought this a million times in my head, but I'll say it now,
you were always right about everything.
As teenage girls, we challenge our mothers at every turn and decision,
convinced we are mature and capable of making decisions,
and then we say hurtful things when we don't get our way.
So you deserve to hear it, you were always right.

I wish I could tell you face to face.
I would tell you how much I miss you, more than either of us could've ever predicted.
I would tell you how blessed I feel to have had such an amazing mother.
I would apologize for judging you for the drinking,
I would tell you it took me forever to realize, but eventually I accepted my mother was human just like everyone else,
and just like everyone else, myself included, you made mistakes.
Above all else, I would tell you that I love you more than you'll ever know.

I'll be turning twenty-nine next month,
which means I have one year left of smoking.
I didn't forget my promise to you, I'll quit on my thirtieth birthday.
I'll continue looking out for my sister to the best of my abilities,
even though she can be impulsive and brash on occasion.
I'll continue to show empathy and kindness to as many people as possible, just like you would've wanted.
And finally, one day I hope to keep the promise I made to you so many years ago:
I promise to try and be happy.
Extremely personal write, but needed to get it out. If you're lucky enough to still have a mother, tell her you love her today and thank her for existing.

— The End —