Archive for April, 2014

I love my Dad

“Oh, all the money that e’er I spent,IMG_0930

I spent it in good company;

And all the harm that e’er I’ve done,

Alas! It was to none but me.

And all I’ve done for want of wit

to memory now I can’t recall,

so fill to me the parting glass.

Good night, and joy be with you all.


Oh, all the comrades that e’er I had,

they’re sorry for my going away;

And all the family that e’er I had

would wish me one more day to stay.

But since it falls unto my lot

that I should rise and you should not,

I’ll gently rise and I’ll softly call:

‘Good night, and joy be with you all.'”


(“The Parting Glass”, trad. Celtic, lyrics slightly adapted by me).


I managed to sing this at my Dad’s funeral yesterday. I only wish I had gotten the chance to teach it to him.



Sunder Warumbe (Poem)

it is


to live


without why


thrown into a great poverty of purpose


the wide-open abundance

of now


the rose that smiles at autumn

the tears at the beauty of birth


washing the dead


their hands in yours


expect nothing and prepare


to receive everything



39 (Poem)

it was a far country at first

a far and lonely country


but oh so



windswept and wild

untamed but full


of peace


i stood in a deep valley

looked up at mountains that reached

to run their fingers through clouds

caress eagles

gather stars


silence was true here

a green silence full of a deep

vibration. my feet thrummed

with the heart of this land

this land lived

for the infinite


i knew

it could never be conquered

only loved

longed for

like an ocean

the bricks that catch the water

of a dawning life

the road home

the earth that embraces you

at your end


(and oh there was an end

to everything i had ever been

and everything i could have been

this Earth embraced my darkness

this Ocean drowned my griefs

this Sun burned away my sins

like morning fog)


then one night

i saw my sweet country

laid to waste


green earth i longed to walk split:

such a terrible abundance!

running red

with thirty-nine rivers


sky turned black

earth caught fire

horror, ashes


green silence

turned grey


i found twelve deer that walked this country

huddled and trembling

streaked crimson

from thirty-nine rivers

deep dry wells for eyes

thirty-nine tears


i will wait


this land is my heart

but that is not why i wait


i wait because at dawn

i heard the sweetest voices:


three larks

flawless harmony


thirty-nine rivers ruffled

with morning wind


and now, from each

thirty-nine shoots


of green



Joseph (Poem)

I lost you among leaves

running through orchards

wholly painted

by sun

I lost you among curled shavings

watched in the workshop

pulled splinters

from tiny fingers

I lost you among lilies

you scattered birds

with your laughter

I lost you in me

My name

My work

My wonder

My fear

I lost you

Who will scatter the birds now?

all fallen silent

in the rain of your absence

Who will bring me home

from arthritic nighttime wanderings?

Who will be me

when I am no more?

Who will rise my sun?


Yeshua, Under Blossoms (Poem)

there were no hydrangeas in the garden

outside the walls of Old Jerusalem

but had there been

they may have covered him

could we have buried him in blossoms

and kept him

from their spears?

would those branches weave themselves into knots

airful shields

to cover his head

sweet coffee skin

not prophet, nor patriarch


that i love and have loved

or would all attempts unravel

branches curl open

reveal his face


like marble

is this my yeshua

or david?

before these hired hatefuls

false goliaths

white blossoms

keep watch over silence

would they burn away

in his sudden blaze


Wednesday in Holy Week (Poem)

They were happy then.

We were given wine

wherever we walked.


Our words were mustardseeds

passed from village to village


his stories grew



Thousands came to nest in them and stare

crow-voices all together talking


In the morning we found him quiet


Just tired.


Never you mind for now.


Passover is uncomfortable

Something is missing

Why do we need to remember?


Find me a garden, he simply says.

I’d like to stop

by a quiet place.



PS Sorry this was a day late, guys. :)

The Return (Poem)

The one
stumbling from the wilderness
was not the one
we had known,
soft-spoken carpenter’s son:

thin and ragged at hem and hairline;
hands, feet, forehead
scratched by brambles,

eyes haunted and lovely

voice rusty from disuse,
but somehow full
of quiet power.

Sitting at table,
eyes fixed on palm fronds burning
in the hearth.

The loaf and his cup

His mother took his hand
and said


then silent
eyes full
their bracketing lines
so deep.

His answer is soft and cool as water.

“I have to go away.”

She squeezes his hand.
“When will you return?”

Their eyes meet

The silence

for days.




Grief is hating God not for taking him away but for making you write the obituary.

Grief is being so hungry but the thought of eating makes you feel sick.

Grief is knowing someone is sobbing in the other room but you can’t bear to get up to comfort them.

Grief is a keening train whistle at 3am.

Grief is the mountains carving a hole in your ribcage and resting there.

Grief is pouring your Gen-macha into a “University of Victoria Dad” mug.

Grief is a guitar that no-one remembers bringing upstairs to the living room.

Grief is a mostly finished bag of potato chips rolled up and pinched shut with clothespins.

Grief is white sympathy orchids being, for a moment, the worst thing you’ve ever seen.

Grief is stories that you haven’t heard before that make you wonder if you ever really knew him at all.

Grief is a pot of hydrangeas left on the doorstep.

Grief is wondering how the sun could possibly be shining.

Grief is wondering why the whole world doesn’t stop.

Grief is a stuffed turtle in the spare bedroom that you can’t let go.

Grief is a jar of Tikka Masala that he will never use again.

Grief is losing all pretense of composure over a pair of reading glasses.

Grief is screaming, “I want my daddy!” like a toddler simply because it is true.

Grief is rage that other older and sicker people didn’t die first.

Grief is not wanting to see the body so you can remember him just as he was the last time you saw him.

Grief is thinking, “Will this make me stronger? Better? More compassionate?” and your heart laughing bitterly like it will break.

Grief is unbearable gratitude that he recorded those new songs he told you he wrote.

Grief is not wanting to be alone and yet unable to bear one more hug because it’s not his.

Grief is the persistence of snow on the mountain.

Grief is the seeds in the garden that he planted but can’t harvest.

Grief is a stone that melts and re-solidifies, over and over.



A Cup of Tea

In a crisis the English always make a cup of tea, so that was what my husband did.

I never got to drink it, though, because Mum came and got me, and that meant that we had to make a pot at her house. So we did, and I drank too much and got jittery, and we looked at photos after crying in each others’ arms.

On the morning after your father dies, you’ll eat leftover pizza and cry and think, “We were supposed to go fishing. Ah, fuck.” You’ll console your grieving stepmother and say, “We’ll get through this together,” and wonder if now she’ll finally understand that you’re not a child and then feel bad for the thought. You’ll head to Community Worship at school hoping to God no-one says, “Don’t cry; he’s with Jesus now,” because if someone does you can’t be held responsible for the consequences. You also hope to God no-one says, “Think of what this will do for your ministry. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” because you’ll croak, “I’d rather be a shitty priest with a dad.”

Pink and white and yellow tulips will come from your beloved friend overseas, and they’re beautiful but you’ll let your husband thank the florist because you’re not sure what to say.

Your denominational mentor — a jewel of a priest who agrees when you say dispassionately, “Everyone dies, big deal,” and says, “Yes,” when you say “If anyone tells me to rejoice because he’s in heaven I’m going to tell them to fuck right off,” and means it — will drive you to a liquor store so you can buy a bottle of wine for tonight ’cause why the hell not? Friends will give hugs and no-one will say all the things you are steeling yourself to hear because of course they won’t; there likely won’t be any words at all, except maybe “There are no words,” and that’s how you want it because most of the ones on offer are just shit: already consumed, partially digested, no nutritional value, and totally unrecognizable now, all original truth and light gone, and they stink anyway so who cares. You’ll thank God that no-one tries to play pastoral care superhero and try to convince you that God is in this dark time, because, hell, you know that, know it like the shade of his eyes or the feel of his hugs, tighter and longer as he got older, or the sound of his chuckle, the one that made things all better but could also be totally infuriating, or the deep silence that said, “I love you, daughter, but that kind of bone deep truth has no words: truth is these blue mountains and they sing a better song than the one in my heart. We are Morgans and our feelings are carried inside us like small grey stones at the bottom of a river. Best to let them lie, or you’ll slip and they’ll sink you.” (And you never could and that was okay: his river ran still and deep enough for the both of you.)

What happens now?

What happens now as you take notes on what to discuss about arrangements and the service and should we even have a service or just a wake and how to pass the time between now and then? What happens when you make plans to head up north to his little Brackendale house and his garden full of beans and peas and carrots, knowing full well that the sight of that house and his guitars and the stupid dollar-store clock you bought him and the Celtic dragon you drew and framed for him is going to cleave to your jaws like in Psalm 22, but it’s really those mountains that will get you, the blue mountains that will really blast a ragged hole in your heart and let his blood and her blood — your blood — pour like a river down your body and mark you, mark you for a mortal, brushed by death on the busy highways of the world, mark you for tears and platitudes and silence and flowers and cards and other peoples’ stories of death and other peoples’ anxieties and superstitions and guilt.

What do you do when night comes and you wake up from a dream of childhood, wake up with breasts and a husband and twenty years’ worth of schooling but no goddamn idea how it happened that you could wake up a grown-up when your dream of second hand plastic ponies bought at the Value Village and singing “Summertime” by the campfire and casting your line on a misty lake and “Daddy, do the Inspector Gadget voice” is still so real?

What do you do when you lie awake that night next to your husband and all the terror comes home to roost and builds twisted nests in your hair as you think, “Please God, don’t let me wake up with bloodless grey morning light coming through the window next to a body that has cooled and a heart that has flickered out”?

What do you do when the two of you get in the shower and you look at water beading on his back and realize that one day he will die and you will put him in the ground and you don’t know when, you can’t know, and you will die too and leave your own ragged hole in some other heart, maybe a heart that hasn’t even been born yet, a hole perfectly shaped only for you: nonadaptable, doomed to only ever be full or empty, with nothing in between?

What do you do?

I pray, walk along an empty sidewalk on my way to Community Worship singing at the top of my lungs, without really knowing why: only knowing that I must or else the emptiness wins.

And I drink tea.


I have to say ‘I love you’ in a song

Squamish-20120908-00012-aSo…my dad died.

It was completely unexpected and it’s going to take time to work through the shock of losing him. Right now, although I feel like I was hit by a truck, I am also incredibly grateful: for being at VST, one of my favourite places, when I got the news; for the love, prayers, and support from all of my family and friends; and for the fact that, a couple of years ago, I decided to start saying, “I love you” every time Dad and I said goodbye. He was not a demonstrative person in terms of emotion or affection and it took me a long time to learn and appreciate the love that often rested underneath silence as we drove to his place or looked at the mountains outside his house in Squamish or laid down a track in his basement. I will miss him so much.

If you’re a praying type, your prayers are very appreciated.

Thanks all of you for being my friends.

Here’s what I’m grateful for.