About the Author

Monica Kidd

Monica Kidd grew up on the rural Alberta prairies. She completed a B.Sc. at the University of Calgary, an M.Sc. at Queen’s University, attended medical school at Memorial University and is now a practicing physician and writer in St. John’s, Newfoundland. She is the author of two novels (Beatrice and The Momentum of Red), a book of non-fiction (Any Other Woman: An Uncommon Biography) and a collection of poetry entitled (Actualities). Her short experimental films have shown in Atlantic Canada and in Amsterdam. She has worked as a seabird biologist and as a reporter for CBC Radio, where her news items and documentaries have won numerous awards. She lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with her husband and children.

Books by this Author
Excerpt

Questing

To lose a long-haired surfer go somewhere
he'd never daydream his board. I mean
who plans to run away to Mid-Western America? Who flees a beachy barefoot paradise
to Nowhere Rednecksville with six suitcases,
a fold-up Fisher Price dollhouse
and a three-year-old child? I'm not really leaving,
I promise, indulge me another pilgrimage.
Like my half-baked trip to India, and the crystal healing cacoethes, those Vipassana silences,
Kriya Yoga initiations...
And my mother--
she doesn't want to know
we've landed at a ramshackle resort
the ashram owns. Doesn't want to know
we're safer away from him
in a building that's never locked,
keys in all the dorm room doors, ghosts
and other darknesses slugging the basement, sinking
cornerstones--will we ever get back
home? At night I'm running
North with my daughter, through snow.
The sky glows white, everything's white; maybe it's sand not snow, maybe it's Shangri-la or a billowy formless Nirvana.

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Excerpt

Here is a street. It is a narrow street and it is an old street, it is a street that winds and turns and as it winds and it turns it knots itself up with other streets, because it is not the only street here, there are others, there are no end of others and all of these streets knot themselves up and they lie tangled together, touching but not quite. In the gaps between them are buildings and the buildings are piled one on top of another wherever there is room for one, and even where there is not they somehow find a way anyway and all together these buildings and these streets and the buildings and the streets just beyond them and the ones just beyond those, all of this is a city. Here is a boy walking down this street, this particular street. Buildings jostle and crowd up close to him on one side and close on the other; they are so close that the street is only a trickle running between them and he walks down it, he turns at a corner, he turns and he has gone from one narrow and winding street to another. This other street is the kind of street that should have shops along it and so there are shops all along it. Here is a shop selling toys and here is a shop with a tailor sitting in the window, mending a pair of trousers, here is a shop selling sweets and next door to it a shop selling bitters. They are tiny shops bunched up too close together, one beside the other all up and down the street and in every one of them the shelves are packed full of whatever it is that particular shop sells. Even the windows are taken over by potted petunias or a rack of light cotton dresses in all manner of colours, or a shelf of mystery stories or penny romances, he cannot quite tell which, or guides to the cultivation of mushrooms and sometimes in some of the shops there is too much stuff and not nearly enough room for everything that has to fit inside. When this happens -- and it happens quite often, actually, especially when the weather is nice -- when this happens the shops spill out into the street and here and there in among the crates and the tables set out on the sidewalk there are shopkeepers settled in comfortably among whatever it is they happen to be selling. They sit in folding chairs or they stand with an elbow propped on a window ledge, and while they wait for someone to stop and buy a wind-up toy or a basket of peaches they watch with nearly interested eyes as the street carries on its way past them.
It is late on a summer afternoon and it is a late summer afternoon, the sky is clear and there is a slight breeze stirring at the edges of things, and here is a shop selling flowers, another selling spices and preserves, another with produce stacked in crates on the sidewalk in front of it. The shopfronts blur one into another as the boy walks past and now and then a streetlight pokes up from the ground in front of one of them, like an improbable sort of tree. Here is another shop selling whatever it is that it sells, sometimes it is hard to tell from just glancing in the window while walking past, and then another. He walks past it too and after these two there are more shops and then there are not. Where there should be a shop there is not anything at all, there is a gap in the street and on the far side of it is another shop and another after it and so on but here there is not, there is not anything at all and a gate propped up in front of it. It is an iron gate, it should be a solid gate but it is altogether too old to still be anything like a solid gate and instead it is a crooked and rickety gate that does not close properly anymore, no matter how firmly it is shut it always swings slightly open again and the boy stops here, in front of this gate. His name is Luca, his hair is almost long, almost but not quite, it has not quite tipped over into being long and it is shaggy instead. He did not want to be bothered by it, he does not want to always be going in to have his hair cut and so he stopped, and his hair has grown and grown and now it is another sort of problem. Bits of it are always floating up from his head and trailing around his ears and getting into his eyes; while he was walking a bit of it drifted down to tickle at his nose and he raises a hand to brush it away and here he is, standing in front of this gate and he is looking for a gate. He is not from here, he has come from far away and this is why he has come here -- he is here to find a particular gate on a particular street somewhere in this city that he does not know, and this is the street and what if it is this gate.

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Excerpt

Morning at the Summer Palace, Beijing

The fog rises off the lake to bury the sun. Its steel
gleam rinses the willows that line the shore,
dip feathered fingers in the eddying shallows.
In the distance a man balances on his pontoon,
pole and hook poised to loop fronds of weed
from the water. The granite walkways
steam in the heat, and as I turn down the path
to the fragrance tower, the marble boat,
the old man with his long-handled sponge
paints a new line with pure water. Though
I do not read Chinese, I recognize the symbols
of the Heart Sutra. The opening lines dry and fade
as he draws the final characters. I continue on the path,
and he begins to write again.

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