1968 – I will rail against the wreck in the only way I know how. I will howl. I will howl.
1970 – I will assume you don’t really mean to wreck me, but that there is something in me that needs wrecking. I will run my finger over the fontanelle of my baby sister’s skull and wonder as you say “Gentle, gentle”. Does this mean you want to wreck the impulse to harm in me? I would do no harm, but you know best. Okay, yes. I must be gentle. I will wreck all impulse to harm in me. I am gentle. I am gentle.
He puts his cigarette out in my palm. He hits the toilet with the full force of his weight + gravity. He bleeds on the tile while she stirs soup. I am screaming, and she says “He’s just drunk.”
He’s just drunk.
I am soaked through. I smell like whatever you wash the floors with. The blood is pouring out of his head and into his piss while I watch, but it’s okay.
He’s just drunk, and there’s soup on the way.
There’s soup on the way.
1974 – The rape was obviously my fault. You said it, mom. I was a very provocative little girl and he was “very good to us”. You meant to say that he was very good to you. You meant that, but what came out of your mouth was “he was very good to us.”. He was raping me in every orifice, though, so maybe you were mistaken? Couldn’t be, though, right? Because you were the God of my Childhood. He raped me while you slept. There are family rumours of there being Valium on board. I had nightmares about Contact C, so I think maybe you were taking that, too.
You tried to wreck me.
1988 – I have a daughter now. I am 19. Her father plucked me out of foster care, but I am now a mother so, okay. Let’s try to do this motherhood thing right. Right? Let’s do it. She doesn’t leave my sight. I can’t breathe without my hand on her chest as she breathes. He leaves for months and months and I somehow keep our bodies and souls together. There is no one else. I am the only one. I breastfeed. I cry. I get up at 5 a.m. and make breakfast. I save all the food scraps to make stock because I know how to do that. I ask for things. He says no. I breastfeed. I cry.
1989 – I have been begging for therapy for a year now. He says “no”. He says “You are a terrible mother.” He says “let me take her.” I believe him. I believe him when he says “We will do visits. You will never lose her. I will make sure of it.” I let her go. I let her go. Who would want me? I let her go.
I do not see her again until 2006. I get it though. I am a terrible mother. I am a terrible person. Of course you took her from me. Of course you did.
1990 – I have a son now. His father chocked me unconscious while my baby nestled deep within me. I went to hospital because I was afraid for my baby boy’s life. I said “I want him to get help.” I said “No charges. He tried to kill me because he has pain. My life for his pain. My life for his pain.” I return to work, five months pregnant with every capillary in my face and eyes broken. My boss says “Jesus.” when he looks at me. He doesn’t say anything else. I go to work. I go home. I make dinner with whatever scraps there are in the fridge. The landlady is mad because he keeps pissing in her tub. He does this on purpose. I know he does it on purpose. He hates her. He hates me. I breastfeed. I cry.
He says “We should go home.” Home is thousands of miles from me. Thousands of miles from my daughter, but I have no one and nothing. I say yes. Of course I say yes. I pack a bag. I get on a plane. We pass over a landscape that feels dreamlike. I say “I’ve always dreamed of living in a place that looks like this” and he grins at me. His mouth turns up but this smile does not reach his eyes. He says “It looks nothing like this where we’re going.” I nod and I breastfeed and I cry.
1991 – I am breastfeeding. I eat Spam and there is Carnation milk in my coffee, which I limit because I am also pregnant again. We have no house. The community is tiny and the mother in law speaks in a language I do not speak or understand while I am breastfeeding. She is calling me names. I can tell, because they laugh and also I know the name for “white” in her language. Kablunak. She is calling me by that name while I am breast-feeding. And I am pregnant again. I wanted birth control but there is some religious contraindication against it. He is not kind about anything. I do not say no. Ever.
I have another baby boy now. I find underwear on the bathroom floor that should not be there. My son reaches for his father’s crotch in ways that alarm me. I say “I am alarmed”. He beats me while I am breastfeeding the new one…
…I call the RCMP. They say “It’s his word against yours.” They say “You should leave, though. We can help you with that.”
I have no where to go. I get a one way ticket “South”. I go to my mother. I have no where to go. “Mom? He hurt Alex. Mom? Can I come home? Yes, he beats me, but that’s not the thing. He hurt Alex. Can I come home?”
1991 – I flee with nothing but a bag of clothes and my babies.
You tried to wreck me.