red maple leaves and the chihuahua woman

On the bus (because my car broke down and I can’t afford the gas anyway) I am dressed as a bank manager, misleadingly slick. Confident! Early forties! Warm! Ethnic! That’s…me. Ethnic light. I am enjoying the multiculturalism around me. Having been raised in the great white plains of Alberta, it never loses its beauty to me. First Nations guy sits in the middle of the bus aisle on his amp with a shiny red electric guitar strapped across his back. Tiny Asian girl squawking out the window, bouncing on her grandmother’s knee. Both of them in violet. I am back to back with a quiet Usher who isn’t going to sing. But we’re doing the transit rhumba with all the traffic stops: quick quick slow, quick quick slow. A young strawberry float of a girl gives up her seat for a tiny sallow lady with a cane, flashing her big white false teeth in gratitude. I admire the brown hand holding the transit pole above me, covered in gold bangles and rings.images

I sit in the audition waiting room and four brittle women stand in their suit jackets and skirts in front of me, perched on high heels. Two of them take off their jackets for their audition photo, seems expressly so they can show off their hard earned cleavage. One of them is so very frighteningly thin, I can’t help but stare. She has the torso of a little old white chihuahua. Sometimes extremely skinny women make me frantic. I just want to feed them. I look down at my buttery round whiteness and smile. I affectionately call myself a little pork bun. I understand I mean that in a good way. Sweet, and nothing bony.

images-1I do a great audition. But no matter. I suspect I’m not exotic enough. But at least I’m not hungry. And I’m in and out fast enough I can still use my bus pass to go home. There’s no food in the fridge for my Fellow. If only my cheque had come in the mail. And Nora’s birthday is in two days. It better arrive, it better arrive, Fellow has his own bills to pay. We’re doing the ol’ post wedding and reno catch up, you know. And I’m lucky if I’ve made twenty five gran this year, despite the fact I’m working constantly.

Oh, but I wasn’t going to talk about money. No. I get off at Broadway and walk the rest of the way home. I pass the Flower Box and yearn for roses. Roses and champagne I want when I’m broke. And really good sushi. And Fluevog shoes. Hm. I think I have a can of tuna left at home.

I walk through Grandview park and the most gorgeous red maple leaf falls in front of my feet. It is so vibrant, it stops me in my tracks. I pick it up thoughtfully. It’s red enough to be in the middle of the Canadian flag. I think of Trudeau withdrawing fighter jets from Syria and Iraq, the promise of a national inquiry into lost and murdered aboriginal women, a better standard of living for the middle class. Hm. I don’t think I’ve ever made middle class. I think I’ve always teetered below that. I twirl the maple leaf in my hand. Oh right, there’s the pledge to recover funding for the arts. Hm. Maybe. But I have to say I love it. The hope in the air with the new prime minister. The spirit of citizenship and generosity.IMG_3108

I look up at the tree that gave me the gift and see the pile of fallen beauties below it. I pick a fluttery handful of red. I’m going to make my own roses.

On my home, with my scarlet bounty, I smile and passer-byers smile back at me. And just as I’m about to turn onto my home street, I see the smallest cross. Twigs and rags. Jabbed into the grass.

What little death is this? It’s a tiny enough grave for the little chihuahua woman.

I can’t stop thinking about her. And her breakable bones. Aren’t we all so fragile? Always in the middle of some transformation. I bend my knees and acknowledge the little and immense beauty all around me.IMG_3106

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