May 6, 2012 § 1 Comment
after Stan Dragland
he is sorry he mentions the possibility of going to frobisher bay. she wants him to go. we need the money she says. he agrees to go to frobisher bay for eighteen months.
she spends some of the money he sends home on a plastic and chrome living room set that she orders from the eaton’s catalogue. when he comes home for a break after six months, he loathes the new furniture. he flies back to frobisher and the family is glad he’s gone. (he will have a brief affair with a nurse.)
she gets to know mr smith from next door very well. mr smith works in the refrigeration department at eaton’s.
in frobisher he feels honoured to meet a gentle but famous oblate missionary who gives him an 8 x 10 photograph of himself meeting pope john paul II.
he gives his sixteen year-old daughter’s photo to a french co-worker in frobisher who is twenty-five. that man writes a letter to her. his daughter answers it briefly for politeness sake.
he misses his daughter’s graduation from teacher’s college. he sends through a friend, an enormous frozen fish called a char. no one knows what to do with it. we do not have a freezer.
she feels lost during the day. dr. b puts her on valium.
his now-best-friend in frobisher sends the daughter a photo of himself sitting on his bed with her high school graduation photo pinned to the wall behind him. he is not attractive and the daughter does not answer the letter.
on his second trip home he invites his frobisher friend to the house. the daughter retaliates by having her boyfriend come over, sits close to him on the plastic sofa.
at the end of his eighteen month contract he asks his daughter why she did not like his frobisher friend. he is not pleased when she says she says the man gives her the creeps.
he has acquired a projector and two movies in frobisher. one is too sexy he says to show his children. she has done her hair tonight and wears a fresh dress, and evening-in-paris cologne. from the back bedroom the daughter hears the whirr of the projector, the crackle and creak of the couch, their muffled sporadic chuckles.
she’s a bit disappointed in the movie; all it shows is a woman hitch-hiking on a country road. all she does is raise her skirt just above her knee. she thinks, my goodness, those men up north were desperate! still the movie brings back the wild whirl of early days when they went for picnics, the excitement of being deep in the cremazie woods on a blanket, alone with her catholic boy.
Note: That gentle but famous missionary was Father Pierre Henry, missionary Oblate of Mary, who lived on King Williams Island under the same conditions as the native people. The book Kabloona by Gontran de Poncins, has a section about him.
In poetry Claudia Coutu Radmore’s ‘Accidentals’ (Apt. 9 Press, Ottawa), won the bpNichol Chapbook Award, 2012 (Canada). Her fiction placed second in the Kingston Literary Awards, and won the Backwater Review’s First Annual Hinterland Award for Prose. She has written the foreword to, and edited letters for ‘Arctic Twilight: Leonard Budgell and the Changing North.’ (2010, Blue Butterfly Books, Dundurn Press, Toronto) claudiacouturadmore.ca and ynklings.wordpress.com
Image: Light after the Fog, By Leigh-Anne Fraser