"The white fathers told us, "I think, therefore, I am" and the black mother within each of us – the poet – whispers in our dreams, I feel, therefore I can be free."- Audre Lorde

Saturday, January 18, 2014


I always felt as if I'd intuitively know the moment you would die—
Before the dreaded phonecalls
the formal tellings
the platitudes and condolences.

I'd know the moment you'd leave
because our hearts are so intimately woven together
that mine would feel the tug
of yours coming undone
of yours stretching into a different universe.

I would know your absence by the unravelling of my own heart.
A heart that was made real because of and through yours,
A heart that lived and grew in the warm space beneath yours
A heart that took pieces of you with me
as I left your body as home
to meet you here
in the world both marvellous and horrifying.

You came to me in a dream the other night--
I know this because I woke up sobbing.

In this dream, I sit on the toilette:
it is 5:30 in the morning and I should be sleeping,
but am interrupted by the necessary of the mundane.
And in the midst of the ordinary, the drab, the normal
you meet me
at the door,
tousled hair and pyjamas
you meet me and smile weak
as you draw me in closely for a hug-
tight and buried in your arms, in your chest, I feel reassurance in your heartbeat.

You pull away gently to look into my eyes--
the eyes that you made
the eyes that you taught to see hope in all things,
even in the darkest places,

where vision seems a burden.

You look into my eyes and hold my shoulders,
“Shanny” you speak (you haven’t called me this since I was small).
"It's time” you sigh. And I don't want to hear you, so I shut my eyes.
Because in this sentence there is no hope.
Only darkness.

“When it happened for the first time, the cancer,
I prayed I'd just live to see you through your childhood,
to watch you grow into a young woman. And I did.”

You pause and I hold in breath.

“When it happened again, I prayed desperately to just be able to see you grow into a young adult; to see you happy; go to university, follow your passions. And I did.”

I smile with gratitude, though the tears begin to swell.

“When it happened again, I prayed I'd be able to live to watch you fall in love and get married, so that I'd know there would always be someone here to love you. And I did. God let me see all of these things.”

I feel your hands tighten on my shoulders,

and I dread the moment it loosens.

“Sunshine, you've got him now: to love you and care for you, laugh and cry with you. I've been blessed with a life that has allowed me to watch you grow into the daughter and woman you have become. You don't need me anymore- I can go now. I have gone already”.

And through my cries,
you kiss my head one last time
and begin to sing softly:

"You are my sunshine,

my only sunshine.

You make me happy, when skies are grey,

You'll never know dear, how much I love you,

so please don't take my sunshine away”.

And then you are gone. And I know you have been gone,
for a while now.

The phone rings,
and my Father's broken voice
whispers the words I never want to hear:
“she passed Shan; She's gone”.
But this, I already know
because you told me first.

And that song, our song
the song that makes us mother and daughter
it radiates through the dark space of my empty hallway
where you so recently stood outside my bathroom door.

"You are my sunshine”....

The song you sang to me every night as a baby, then a child.
The song you sang to comfort me,
The song you sang in the car
the afternoon it was struck by a train
the first time you should have been taken from this world,
but weren't.

The other night dear,
while I lay sleeping,
I dreampt I held you in my arms,
when I awoke dear,
I had mistaken,
and I held my head and I cried”.

That's when I woke up,
into seemingly real life
because my wailing cries
startled me
back into a state of awake.

Trapped in the miserable place
between the dream world and reality,
the song, your touch, your goodbye
felt so so real

that i was convinced
as the clock flashed 5:30 am,
that I had lost you,
that any moment the phone would ring
and the voice on the other end would say,
“I'm sorry Shan, she's gone”.

This dream, and the incredibly real feelings that followed
have been haunting my silent spaces
because for the first time in a long time,
I feel a level of fear,
that my heart has never known so intensely.

A fearfulness that penetrates into the peaceful calm of my insides
and renders it fragile
as if this space had been fragile all along.

I find myself actively dreading
the someday phonecall
that will make the universe pause
and crumble,

and I wonder
will I know first?
Will you come to me?
will my heart feel the tug of our hearts

So find myself savouring every “I love you”;
I find myself hoarding and storing memories,
how you say my name,
moments you call me baby-girl,
the way your voice smiles over the phone and I know
I am heard, seen, loved.
I preserve these moments, hold them deep
in a tender guarded space,
and pray with a sense of urgent desperation
that they won't be the last.

Please don't take my sunshine away”.

Monday, June 17, 2013

one colour

My head rests on the rise and fall of your breath,

as your chest absorbs my tears, like rain on a garden

that has long ago forgotten what it feels like to be thirsty.

But you have not forgotten. You rarely forget things that matter.
Like today.

We lay tangled in limbs, hair, stories and a past

on this wet Sunday afternoon

in a room kept dark from the magenta-fabric of a window blind

and the soft whispers of Simon and Garfunkel greatest hits

We only play music that
keeps the room one subdued colour,
because in a world that feels unpleasantly unsafe
one colour is all we need
to find a comfortable beauty again.

Your hand drums gently on the top of my head,
drummers are always keeping rhythm,
your hands remember time
and so you carry memory in your hands, and I relive it through your touch

Though sometimes, it's painful--

The reliving.

But today, it isn't, because there is a certain sense of freedom

that fills our dark space, like the unexpected scent of musty incense.

We breathe it in,

because we can

and because it has been so long since that smell

felt as familiar as it does now.

And we wonder if this is what it feels like

to become survivors.

To breathe in the subtle nuance of freedom,

and have it cling to our lungs

in a dark room

on a rainy afternoon.

To relive memory,

and know we were tangled together

all along.

Even during the times

the colourful world took me away,

and the light from the rolled-up blinds

made your presence disappear.

Even then,

your hands kept perfect rhythm

carried perfect time

and continued to drum gently on the top of my head

as I buried my face

in the beating of your chest.

And today, now, in the unlit space we've made home,

I look at the redeemed mess of who we are

and smile because you're still here

and so am I.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Every now and then I smell the scent of his cologne;
 and in those moments I feel unsafe.

Not because the smell of him makes me afraid,
but rather because the smell of him reminds me of how continuously unsafe my world feels
without him near.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


If serendipity were a tea, it would be rich and full bodied,
And fermented.

Young innocent leaves—plucked as buds and buried
Far away from sunlight
Tucked tightly in a sack
Bound by the discerning weaves of indecision
Tucked tightly in a sack
That rests beneath layers of earth
A comforting reminder of both
Beginnings and of ends.

 This earth would be in a cave
A deep tunneling rock
Carved out from broken places— a sanctuary, a birth house

And in this cave
Beneath the earth
Resting tightly in the swaddle of a sack cloth
The young delicate leafs
Would slowly age;
And with age darken;
And with darkness, ferment.

 In this cave,
Each leaf would absorb
the wisdom of its surroundings;
Would memorize the rhythm of each of its sounds;
the every sensation of dripping damp coldness

Until each leaf would grow to bare
The imprint
of being buried far far away
from day

Or night.

 If serendipity were a tea,
It’d be uncovered and unearthed
Resurrected from its burial sack
Like an ancient and sacred artifact  
Whose history tells a story of a
Slow and aged journey
And upon seeing the light
For the first time since a bud,
Each leaf would be beaten and bruised
As if survival
Gives it its rich and dank mouthfeel;
Its soul-filled aftertaste.

 If serendipity were a tea
You’d add a teaspoon and a half
Of its broken leaves
Into a cup of no longer boiling water—
You’d let it steep for approximately 5-8 minutes
No more, no less
And you’d close your eyes
And get lost
As it would fill your mouth,
Your body,
Your entire being
With an aged perfection
that to only darkness and desolation
Could give life.

 You become the cave,
The earth
The elapsed time
And sunshine
As you hold the mug closely to your face
And inhale its smoky heat.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I used to think of you
as a phantom limb
the piece of my self
I once swore I needed
to survive
to function
and exist as me.
the piece of myself
that was severed--
skin, flesh, bone, muscle
torn from body
you were there
in the blood and swollen tendons
there in the violent separation
of a dark and gaping truth.
You were the limb
I thought I lost

and in your absence,
I sensed you-- as if still you were a living, growing part me of.
I felt you and knew you as a lingering pain
an ache stemming from the invisibility
of the space
you once occupied.
In your absence,
I still feel you move
and flow
alongside the daily rhythms of my own body
as if trying to reclaim your role
as a fundamental necessity.
The moments I hurt the most,
are the moments I forget to mourn your loss.
and the detachment
haunts me with now distorted memories of
movements and sensations
I'll never again know.

I was once told that the frequency
and intensity of phantom pains
will usually decline with time...
and so I wait,
with one ghost of an arm
for time to make you disappear.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


I struggle with communal prayer. Not so much the act of collaborative prayer, but rather with the social aftermath of it. It often leaves me feeling more alone and bruised than I when I started off. When we simply give one-another's burdens up to God, it feels like there's something missing; praying for one-another is becoming more passive than I believe it was designed to be. This is not the fault of prayer itself, but rather with us...as a community who falls short.

I believe prayer should be active. I believe it is OUR responsibility, as a community, to not only pray for one-another as a group, but to truly listen to the requests of those we are praying for. To truly listen is to be present, to remember, and to engage. To be active in prayer is to participate in that prayer, long after words are recited. We are all part of the Spirit, we are all called to be part of this grand narrative of love, and I believe that this Spirit and this love has already given US the power to help meet a great deal of the needs of those we are praying for, and with. The Creator made us to function as a body, to care for and nourish one another as a grand whole. We are body—so intimately connected with one-another that a hurt or a problem in one area, should hurt and affect us all. It doesn't feel this way sometimes when a hurt expressed during a prayer, is rarely mentioned again afterwords.

It involves a great deal of vulnerability to surrender a private hurt to a group --- to share a wounded space for all to see. If a person entrusts a burden to prayer, then it is our responsibility to follow up with this burden-- to live compassion, to show we tangibly care, and work to ease it. Having been brokenhearted and vulnerable in prayer, has taught me that we need to be asking questions afterwords. We need to be remembering other people's pains and struggles-- days, weeks, and months after they've been shared. A simple question holds a lot of power, makes you feel heard and loved, and most importantly makes you feel like your hurt is valid-- is something that matters to your community at whole. We need to be checking in with one another more-- in creative ways that extend beyond formal practices of prayer. We need to SHOW God in how we choose to comfort and support the people we are praying for. We need to be asking, “how is your heart feeling?”, not once, not twice, but a thousand times. We need to go further.

I have been the brokenhearted--I know how it feels to express a need and a fear during prayer, and afterwords have the world continue to exist as if now my pain is done, gone, taken care of.

I have loved the brokenhearted-- I have seen a weary loved one take the risk of letting her church know how wounded she really was during prayer, only to feel incredibly let down and isolated afterwords.

And I have hurt the brokenhearted-- I  have been the person who prayed for someone and never followed up. Who forgot to find the time to ask. Who let life's busyness be a distraction from truly loving and showing comfort to a hurting neighbour. I have been the one to make excuses.

I often wonder what stops us from checking up on people in our community? What stops us from knowing a pain exists in someone we are called to love, but pretending as if it doesn't exist at all?

1- Fear. I think we are afraid of having to feel uncomfortable ourselves-- we are afraid of being stretched outside of our comfort zone. It's hard to empathize with someone sometimes because we know we'll have to DO something and taking that responsibility is sometimes a frightening or difficult thing to do.

2- By stander Affect. People are less likely to offer help when there are others present because everyone assumes everyone else if providing that help. Thinking that someone else will take care of it, lets us diffuse our own responsbility to take action.

3- Busyness. We are so caught up in the choas of our own lives that we genuinly just forget, or struggle to find the time. Caring for someone outside of prayer requires sacrifice in our time, and our energies.

I want to deconstruct these barriers. I want us, as the church, to deconstruct these barriers. I want to someday offer prayer, and with that offer active love and presence. I want us to see the power that a simple phonecall, email, letter, hug, or card can have in providing comfort to those hurting around us. I want us to share eachother's burdens, and in turn, work together with the Spirit, in making them lighter and more livable.

Without followup, without questions, without genuine human regard or action, communal-prayer falls flat. We need holistic prayer-- prayer that becomes living, prayer that becomes breathing, prayer that becomes getting tangibly messy alongside those hearts in our body who are hurting.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I dreamt I put the remains
of your cancer
in my crock-pot over night
and boiled it gently
on low for 7 hours
so that by Breakfast-Time
you'd be freed.

snail coitus makes me smile