One good thing I owned one time was this bone-handled penknife. It had a picture of a Mountie and a bright silver blade. With that blade, I could slice through sour green apples when I was trespassing in Rowbottham’s orchard, sitting way up high in a tree. With that blade I could remove splinters from the bottom of Teresa Connolly’s beautifully curved feet after she walked like a beautiful high-wire artiste along the rafters of her mother’s potato barn. With that blade, I could pry fossils from rocks. I could cut the cry of an owl from the night sky and put it in my shirt pocket. I could slice open the bellies of passing cumulus clouds and feel the fresh silver rain pour down the back of my shirt.
Another good thing I owned was this red and black plaid shirt. I wore it planting trees in the Kootenays one summer. I tore it falling off a dirt bike when I was doing something stupid. Years later, I put it ?round the shoulders of the most beautiful woman I ever met after we went swimming in Lake Erie on a cold day, when the wind threatened to freeze our blood, and the sparks from the campfire swirled like angry fireflies through our hair.
Something good I wish I still had was that notebook that fell overboard in my backpack from the canoe in that lake in Wisconsin. I filled that notebook up with poems about pomegranates and fire-eaters and palaces and golden-haired sirens and red motorcycles. I filled it up with drawings of strangers? faces, and pressed wildflowers between its pages. When the pages started to fall out, and it was too full of flowers, I held it together with hemp rope and an elastic band. I reached down into the water of that Wisconsin lake to try and reach that backpack, but it just slipped through my fingers, disappearing like a bright green jellyfish into the darkness below.
Here are some things I never really wanted, but just sort of wound up with: a cell phone that rings when I least expect it; a car that never seems to take me anywhere exciting; a Visa card for buying things I don’t really need and making reservations for places I don’t really want to go; a laptop computer that doesn’t know how to write poems about palaces or motorcycles.