Small Beneath the Sky: A Prairie Memoir
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Crozier vividly depicts her hometown of Swift Current, with its one main street, its two high schools-the one on top of the hill was for the wealthy kids - and its three beer parlours, where her father spent most of his evenings. She captures crystal moments from her childhood - delivering newspapers with her brother in the blue-snow light of a winter morning, planting potatoes under a pale full moon, enjoying an illicit night swim in the town's public pool. She writes unflinchingly, too, about the grief and shame caused by poverty and alcoholism. At the heart of the book is Crozier's fierce love for her mother, Peggy, her no-nonsense champion and moral guide.
The people in these pages are drawn simply, without adornment, as befits the landscape in which they live. Interspersed with the narratives of daily life - sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking - are prose poems evoking the elements. These "first causes" - dust, light, rain, wind, snow-take on mythical qualities in Crozier's sure hands, imparting ancient knowledge about the prairie grasslands and their effect on those who have put down stakes there.
Rich in detail, generous in spirit, this unconventional memoir pays tribute to life's mysteries, secrets, and surprises. Lorna Crozier approaches the past with a tactile, arms-wide-open sense of discovery. Calling on the ghosts of ancestors and the power of memory, she has traced her beginnings with a poet's precision and an open heart.
Our father had never wanted children. Mom told us this again and again, as if it were an excuse for his selfishness and neglect. If anyone was to blame, she said, it was her, because she had insisted on it. Dad wasn’t a violent man, and he wasn’t cruel, but he seemed to feel a love of children would make him unmanly. Once, shortly after my brother was born, Mom and Dad were driving to her parents’ farm when she had to pee. She asked Dad to pull over on the side of the road, and then to take the
sun slid lower in the sky. As we skittered and slipped and darted to the centre, we lost who we were, lost our names and the names of our mothers who had sent us out to play. We were legs and lungs and big hearts pumping. We were geese; one of us, a fox. No one in the game broke the rules. We never called “Time out!” We never stepped from the circle to catch our breath. How essential was that form we had drawn with our boots, how perfect and invariable, how charged with frenzy and delicious
So I’d feel better, she joked that maybe I was a crow because of our last name. My brother had been nicknamed “Crow” for a while, until he grew tired of it and threatened to punch anyone who called him that. After finishing the supper dishes, Mom would sit me on the couch and help me read out loud, making me stop and go back to the start of the sentence if I didn’t get the sounds right. I knew she hadn’t had any books to read when she was a child; she had no favourites among the collection I
Should I go over and say goodbye? I don’t know if I can do it.” “It’s okay,” I said. “She’s sleeping, and we’re leaving early tomorrow, there won’t be time. I don’t want anything to upset her.” I took my hand from hers and placed hers in her lap. “Do you understand,” I asked, “do you understand what I’ve just told you? She doesn’t have much time left. And she’s leaving her house for good tomorrow. She’s going to a home.” “Yes,” she said. “It’s so sad, isn’t it, it’s so sad.” I turned the TV
ways but just as loyal and underfoot. Some days he’d order me to stay in our yard. Other days, by the caragana hedge, he’d tell me to hide and he’d count to ten, and then he’d never find me. Tiny wasn’t sent away unless the games spread too far afield. “Go home, Tiny,” he’d say, and she’d wend slowly down the block, head and tail lowered. I knew exactly how she felt. On winter mornings from the picture window, I’d watch Tiny and my brother head off on his paper route, her trotting ahead, running