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Terry Dawson

I am not a hot Canadian


the first time I sat alone in a hot tub it was

not a hot tub and I was not alone.

the first time I sat in a swimming pool filled with

Canadians no one was swimming.

the first time I sat in a hot tub not a hot

tub but a swimming pool dense with

non-swimming Canadians I became a paper pouch

packed with dark fragrant leaves releasing

its dark fragrance to saturate shiny white

northern North Americans growing

pink with heat and sulfur.

the first time I became a tea bag I sat

alone while not alone. the first time

I resisted swimming in a swimming pool I

seeped and sucked the breath of rotten

eggs without complaint. the first time

I released the conviction of my loneliness

I soaked among Canadians as a woman

my exact age and not Canadian dared to

swim where no one swam and directly toward

me. the first time I made tea of myself with

someone else and flowed with the sulfurous hot

spring that percolated into the heart

of alpine mountains I nearly ignited.

the first time I'd in the weeks ahead enter

another body and discover myself a cup of

seething fluid I'd fail to believe it.

what I'd come to believe is that what

swims toward one can easily swim

away. the first time the tiny dark leaves within me

began to bleed and leave me drained till I'd find

a loneliness that my loneliness had not known

began with my sitting in a hot tub not a hot tub

but a swimming pool not a swimming pool

full of North Americans not North Americans

or tea bags like me.

pine needle breakfast


full of vitamin C with

notes of sap and Christmas –

a warm fortification against the frigid

surf and surge of gripping winds


among the Douglas fir, Sitka

spruce and coastal redwoods,

the lodge pole pine offers

the only real hot beverage option.


first I'd seen of the Pacific.

first I'd seen a forest crush

up against a sandy beach,

reaching densely to block the sun.


the idea had come from one Seattle

camper I'd met. I can barely get

to its lowest limb to grasp the prickly

twigs I hope to seep in camp-fired waters.


Long Beach, Vancouver Island – I've recently left

behind my too-long-lived virginity and one to whom

I hadn't intended to love and hand my vital organs along with

my farewell at the end of a trek across a country not ours.


Canada – land of escape for those like me with no

interest in becoming soldiers in Southeast Asia or

anywhere for that matter. tea – I surprised as anyone to find,

like my Celtic island ancestors, I turn to tea.


first thing in the morning washing out my mess kit the sudden

tide drenches me. the chill seeps to marrow, finding pain

of soul as well as that of waking body. this wave,

nothing short of a betrayal, I begin my brewing.


somewhere out where I stare west, Japan – this ceremony of hot water sacred

there. my saturating of pine as much a prayer as breakfast.

the temperature and fact I've nothing  else to eat leaves me to sip carefully,

gratefully. this tea is not deciduous. I too determine not to shed.



Jacob, his rock a pillow, dreamt of angelic ladders.

my bed a desert, my body begins

to pixilate and dispense as sand.

crusty lids opening to glare, I find

I'd not dissolved across wide Arizona

to snag on spurs of saguaro cacti body

sculptures. thirst quickly stirs memory then.


my canteen remaining in the pickup of the

Jesus freaks, who picked me up the night before and

insisted on praying over me. obliging,

in the moon shadow of a stationary

cement mixer, I whispered

amen when they finished –

more for them than me.


the bartender in the rundown place

off the interstate insists I pay for water. I pass.

shaking out my sleeping bag I note

I'd kept a scorpion warm for the night

– a tiny, translucent one whose venom might have left

me forever in my dream of sandy existence.


hitchhiking once again, I spy

a state trooper on the horizon and begin

a trek across the desert floor in avoidance.

soon a cloud stirs and makes its way

in my direction. when a plum dune buggy

applies its breaks a voice arises from the

settling sand: Get in and I do.


when the long black curly haired and goggled

angel of the lord within hands me a bottle of dishwashing

liquid, I stare at him. Drink it, he says, but I do not.

quick energy, he continues, looks like you need it ...

honey, my friend, pure honey.

I coat my tongue and swallow to become

an instant believer. lowering the lemon yellow

plastic bottle, I read aloud its label; Joy.

again I say amen – this time for me.

I am not a hot
pine needle breakfast
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