Saturday, December 11, 2010


Opera Atelier at St. Lawrence Hall

    Micka had a dream last night. In her dream she saw her son that went missing 21 years ago. The policeman brought her son home. But her son was handcuffed and was restrained by a ball and chain. The son she had missed so much and prayed for for so many years was dragging the ball. Her boy was in rags. His hair was disheveled and he had no teeth.
    Micka’s neighbour, Tom, was with her when her son was brought in. Another man was there, too. The man ran into the apartment to search her son’s room.
    Micka woke up covered in cold sweat.
    Micka does not know that her daughter found the first trace of her son five days ago. She does not even know about her daughter’s search for her brother. Micka is an old woman and her daughter wants to protect her from the bad news.
    Micka reaches for the rosary that her daughter got when she was getting married at an old Vatican church many years ago. The rosary is very precious to Micka. She prays for her children twice a day. Both children are in the Land of Plenty. Micka lives alone. She is very old and very sick. Tom checks on her every day.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Central Island, Toronto

    ‘He can sleep on the couch. He sleeps like a dog. But before he sleeps on my couch he will have to take a shower.’
    There is no hot water in the house where he lives now and Sonny does not like to take a shower, anyway.
    For two months Sonny has been living in a house with no permanent roof on it. The temporary roof can be easily lifted and somebody might enter the house. The owner went for a long vacation to a tropical country. He always stays in his apartment in a big city and does not even live in this house. Sonny is alone there. He watches the house and he takes care of the owner’s cat. The cat jumps into Sonny’s bed at night. Sonny is hugging the cat as they fall asleep together. This way both of them are warmer in wintertime in the house with no permanent roof.
    The winter that started earlier than usual this year is very severe. It snows, it is very windy and it is freezing cold. Sonny has an electric heater in his room, but the kitchen and the bathroom that he is allowed to use are very cold. Sonny turns on the gas stove and he turns on the oven to get warm. It is freezing cold and Sonny is an old man.
    Sonny lives in the richest city of the Land of Plenty. As he is falling asleep, he sings the cat a song—the song that his father, a lawyer in a Faraway Country, used to sing to Sonny when he was rocking him to sleep.

    Que sera, sera,
    Whatever will be, will be
    The future’s not ours, to see
    Que sera, sera   
    What will be, will be.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Little Goat

Ballet Raices de Colombia, Harbourfront, Toronto

    Stan was eleven when his father died. Some people believed his father had died in an accident. Some people were convinced he had been killed by those who had borrowed money from him.
    Stan’s mother, who had had a good life with her professionally successful husband, suddenly found herself penniless and homeless.  Her beloved Stan was not her only child. He had an older brother and an older sister.
    The widow was offered a job as a cleaner. She rented a small room in somebody's house and she bought a goat to have a supply of milk for the children. When his mother was at work from dawn till sunset, Stan felt very lonely. It was then when he befriended the goat. He talked to her. He sang songs to her. He fed her. The goat followed him everywhere and she became his father, his mother and his best friend.
    Over thirty years later, when Stan had his first child, a tiny little girl, slightly bigger than the palm of his hand, he named her after the goat. Every day he would marvel at the little girl's cheerfulness. She brightened his days. She loved listening to the stories about Stan's little goat. She loved Stan to read her a bedtime story about a goat that became a world traveler.
    One day, when she grew up, she bought a pair of red pants, similar to those the goat in the bedtime book wore, and she headed for the world. She never saw Stan again.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Ballet Raices de Colombia, Harbourfront, Toronto

    At fourteen, Delbar became the second wife of a man whose first wife could not have children. They lived together in the same house. The women became best friends.  
    When two boys were born to Delbar, the first wife became like a mother to them. It was her who would wake up in the middle of the night to hug, kiss and comfort the crying baby.
    Ten years later when the husband suddenly died, the two wives became like sisters. They continued living together. No man would marry the young widow whose children were old enough to remember their father because they might cause the new husband trouble.
    Delbar had to go work to support the family. The first wife stayed at home to take care of the children. The children adored her. They called her "mother." They never called Delbar "mother."
    Delbar is very happy.

The Taboo

Ballet Raices de Colombia, Harbourfront, Toronto

    He is a rich land owner. Over one hundred farm labourers work for him and he has over a hundred children by ten wives. When his new baby turns one, he brands the baby with the same hot iron that he uses to brand his goats. When the baby is crying, he makes sure the branding has been done well. He examines the right hand and smiles.
    The rich man is a drunk. Every evening he goes to a bar. He meets women there. He always looks at the woman’s right hand and examines it closely as he does not want to have sex with one of his daughters.

A Bird-Fancier

Chiapas, San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, 2007

    I was a bird-fancier when I was six or seven. I would hunt birds in two ways. In the summer I would use a sling. In the winter, I would dig a hole in the ground and put a little basket in it. I would cover the basket with a thread and put some bread crusts in it.
    Like the other children in the village, I did not have any toys. I would put the bird I caught in a little cage that I had made myself. The bird was not happy but I was. I had a toy to play with. After some time, I would free the bird and catch a new one to put it in the cage. I wanted a new toy.
    Summer was different. Summer was a time of competition. We had slings and we knew how to use them. I wanted to be respected as I was the youngest, the shortest, and I was a girl. I became the best slinger. I would always win. All my shots hit their mark. I was very proud of myself.
    I did not understand the difference between life and death then.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Tarantula

Central Island, Toronto

    The soldiers are laughing heartedly as all young men do. They are afraid of me. Tarantulas are not their best friends in the sand of the Sahara Desert. Although so tiny, I am very powerful and the soldiers know that very well.
     Playfully they spill gasoline all around me and set it on fire. I am choking on the smoke of the burning gasoline. The fire feels hotter than midday sunshine. I walk around the circle. I walk around the circle again. I walk around the circle for the third time. There is no way out.
    I am the Power. I have always been divine. I have always been a warrior. I turn my weapon against myself.
    The soldiers stop laughing. They freeze watching my suicide.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Kidney

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, December 29, 2007

    ‘It is a small nation I come from. We used to be part of a big empire. Tyranny was all we knew.
    My mother was young when she got sick and needed a kidney transplant. I was a teenager then. I was horrified I would lose her. I developed a plan how I could help her.
    I went to the marketplace in a big city and I looked for an idle man who would be willing to sell his kidney. I played with some piglets that a farmer was selling from his horse-drawn cart. A man came and bought them. He put them in a burlap sack and tied it up with a string. The piglets were moving vigorously. I played with them through the fabric of the sack. My hair was blond. My hair was long. My eyes were blue. The man agreed to become a donor but he wanted something more than money. He made me promise that I would marry him after the transplant surgery. I agreed to marry him when my mother feels good enough to dance at our wedding.
    My family and the donor went across the border together. Things went well. My mother was feeling well. The donor was also feeling well. Soon he returned to our tiny country. My family headed off for the world.
    Many years have passed but the man keeps calling our home from his tiny village of seventy houses. My mother cannot understand why I do not want to talk to the man who saved her life.’