Dispatches

Weeble World

GILLIAN JEROME

It was the first day of the G-8 summit and a flock of F-18 helicopters boomed overhead. I was trying to get my baby daughter Rory to sleep in the drowsy mountain town of Canmore, Alberta, where the military had moved in a week earlier for the meetings in Kananaskis. Evil is not darkness, I thought to myself. It’s noise. Can you think straight with a lone fly buzzing in the room? Hitchcock used birds. The military uses helicopters.

I had gone to Canmore, eighty kilometres west of Calgary, to visit my brother Paddy, who lives there with about ten thousand others and works as a mountain guide. Kananaskis, and the installation of the largest domestic military operation in Canadian history, is deeper in the Rockies, about an hour’s drive southeast of Canmore. It is often said that the stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway from Canmore to Rogers Pass is God’s country, and though I don’t believe in a god, its beauty is breathtaking.

The baby would not sleep in the noise of the helicopters, so I sat on the wood floor of my brother’s condominium in Canmore to amuse her with Fisher Price weebles. These small plastic egg-shaped dolls have faces and bodies but no arms and legs, so that they are rendered only half-human by their makers. Babies love weebles because you put them in one spot and they never move; they just wobble in circles. Rory squeals when I play puppeteer with the weebles and make them talk to her in outrageous dialects and intonations.

By now, after seven months of motherhood, it has become second nature to me to do several things at once, so while playing with the weebles, speaking in tongues and trying to catch the latest news reports on the G-8 meetings, I tidied my brother’s cramped living room. All I could hear of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s opening address was a jokey exchange with Chancellor Ger

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GILLIAN JEROME

Gillian Jerome is a poet from British Columbia and a contributing editor at Geist. Her works have been published in Geist, Colorado Review, Grain, the Fiddlehead, Malahat Review, Canadian Literature and many others. Her first book of poems, Red Nest, published by Nightwood Editions, won the 2010 ReLit Award for poetry. With her husband Brad Cran, Jerome co-edited Hope in Shadows: Stories from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (Arsenal Pulp Press 2008) won the City of Vancouver Book Award. She is also the editor at Event Magazine and the founder of Canadian Women in the Literary Arts. Her work has most recently appeared in Breathing Fire 2: Canada's New Poets. This professor of literature at UBC, resides in Vancouver.


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