moving into words


The Walk by Ingrid Rose





                                                divided selves

                                                                                    or cells


                                    though they're not identical

                                                furling round one another

                                                            in their mother's uterus  


                                    movement shivers at navel

                                                            cords        sign

                                                            motile  water babes





                                                            nudges elbow into receptive walls    

                                                            fingerbuds glaze sightless face 

                                                                                    knees press into




                                                                                    centre of each universe








sudden quiver through torso              


                                                            one                              floats up

                                                            other                            accommodates           



                                                puckered mouth sucks crook of arm 


                                                                        sharp tug at her skin

                                                                                    as if it'd be whipped off                                                                                                          leave tiny malleable bones


                                                                                                            naked as living coral 


                                                                         sharp suck at her head

            roar cavernous in ears                        


                                                  gone he


                                                  alone she






                                                                         in enlarged space                    




membrane flutters 


                                    lips      p   p   p   p    p   punctuate haloo of blood


                                                            all implodes          she's


                                                                                    crushed squeezed downrushed

                                                                                    to same small opening

                                                                                    loosened an eternity ago        

                                                                                    by adventurous brother





                                                much later    of course


                                                i notice           


                                                                        my belly button

                                                                        fruit plucked              

                                                                        core pokes out



                                                                        his tucked

                                                                        neatly in   



                                    A doll!

                                                                                                                        Ma said.

                                    You looked—just like a doll!

                                    Your brother looked like a frog!

The Walk



I take Tim’s arm companionably. My twin brother I’m very fond of, living more than two decades 

in the same city. One of them on the same street a block away. Fonder than I ever realised. 

Only now as I walk with him do I viscerally sense him a part of me and I of him. He'd not say that 

in so many words.

He drove us here over the Second Narrows Bridge and parked the car close to the toilets. Aging changes 

our priorities. Thinking of his bladder, the tea he drank before we left his place. Always practical. I'd have 

parked closer to where we start to trim off excess meters now my ability to walk not smooth and gainly as 

it used to be.

Quite soon, after we’ve headed for the path up to Seymour Demonstration Forest, not one to display 

outward affection, he takes his arm back as we walk and talk. For both of us, walking and talking, 

acquired at Dad's side, a way to keep depression at bay.

Now we know walking and talking only tempers.


The West Coast landscape surrounds us, wilder and vaster than any we’d experienced in Europe. 

Does Tim still feel dazed like me at the enormity or has it become second nature for him, having lived here 

almost all his adult life? I take a good look at him. Discrete. Yes I'd recognise him anywhere, the strong square 

hands, the way his chin juts forward when questioned or tucks in when discomforted. Right now he's already 

looking a little less anxious, more at ease away from the responsibility of navigating the traffic and able to take 

deep gulps of cold, damp mountain air.

When I was living in France with Jos and our two children over twenty years ago, a visitor from British Columbia viewed the landscape I was in love with, a Renaissance painting framed by tall stone houses on the steep road up from St Geoire en Valdaine, and complained, Too small! Too claustrophobic!

How could he be so crass! Beauty spied from ancient town clamped to mountainside that each time took my breath away.

Jos had often had me crouch down in different landscapes to scan the horizon, sense which way energy spiralled. Clockwise? Anti-clockwise? The difference it made. Makes.

All these years, long after Jos and I separated, to come to realise a place can stretch or cramp one's vision, allow breath to swell the belly or throttle it in the throat.

On my first journey across Canada, viewed from a train riding west to east after visiting Tim en route to New York—landscape looming large, empty, inhuman.

Even now, British Columbia overwhelms me. Its majesty and girth.

Though Tim and I walk man-made trails, we barely cross the path of other hikers. If we do, dogs come and sniff at us, our exchange with their owners a passing nod or smile. Rocks, creeks, conifers surround us though we’re less than a half-hour ride from Vancouver.

How far we’d had to go out of central London to get to the countryside. To the country, we’d say as though it really was another country. Another culture.

Far from the familiar city surrounded by its suburbs brimful of people, and even beyond, still signs of civilization—church spires, barns, sheep bleating in meadows, dogs barking, smoke from cottage chimneys, distant chug of tractor.

We, indelibly marked by the never-ending city, landmarks not geographic features but manmade—the Post Office tower, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace where Uncle Harry took us to watch the changing of the guards, a cross between smile and sneer on his face, Your father's too Red to bring you here! Centre Point, the infamous high-rise offices on Tottenham Court Road deliberately kept empty for years waiting for the highest bidder. The Thames—familiar bridges and banks holding back buildings, docksides where England established a voracious empire. Woods and open spaces swallowed by roads spreading trade. Millions of drivers, unconscious of trespass, whooshing by on motorways.

I glance at Tim. Does he sometimes miss a real city like London or Paris or New York? Their apparent solidity? Brick and stone? Old World culture?

Near us the leafless trees look almost dead yet tiny vibrant flares of green on a branch here and over there on the other side of our muddy path are sparking. I point at one,

Elder, I think. Can almost imagine spring!

Breathe in deeply as he walks on silent.

From behind, this man who had such thick curly hair is balding. Years before, in this place unknown to us on the other side of the world, without our witnessing, he'd transformed into a man.

When I saw him after he’d already lived a year here on the West Coast, I couldn’t quite retrace the brother I’d always known from our shared beginnings. His once boyish frame had gained muscle and heft from carpentry and working on fishing boats when, at twenty-one, he'd first come to Vancouver.

The boy in my bones, I'd barely recognised.

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