Garbage Box with Black Loons

My father's speech was slurred most of my childhood — but it's a rite

of passage for many Maritime Canadians

'cause I heard from a friend of a friend that linguists say our accent

is the result of a speech impediment, yet I don't think much

of it. My father comes from people who learned to talk

the potato into growing more potatoes — a trick

not a lot of people know.

And people who cottage here think life is very easy

and carefree. The potato money bought

groceries and the rest went towards my father's brand new

two-door red Toyota Tercel

the closest thing we could afford to a Lamborghini

and the most practical vehicle for a middle-aged man with four kids

who now would get very creative

with cans of tuna, white bread, and chicken legs with veins, bought in bulk,

which Shake 'n Bake: The Original could not fix.

All summer, chicken legs with veins

and hairy legs and Dad daydreaming his

two-door Toyota Tercel was sports

car material and so on weekends he found himself

whatever he could to make himself garbage

boxes, and they would sell, oh yes, everyone wanted a box

for all the garbage they dealt with, totally

beautiful at the end of their cottage driveways

next to the Anne of Green Gables mailbox

hand-painted by a local artist, my third-grade teacher.

Have Dad's blood in my veins, despite my early convictions

that we were not related and that Dad may also

be a tourist of this town for he felt like he belonged

elsewhere. Because I cannot build garbage

boxes, I know nothing about the art, the discipline

of carpentry, or raising a shed which he also did

from the scraps of his childhood house torn down

when land was sold to tourists who loved quaint life

and it paid for the car and there were no more veins

in the chicken and we had a garbage box, and a shed,

built from his own house, a shed he painted

and named Cow, and he loved putting up

any kind of wall, and this he can do just from scratch

like driving his red car looking at junk and making it

into something strangers would love him for.

Bibliographical info

Matthew Walsh, "Garbage Box with Black Loons" from These are not the potatoes of my youth. Copyright © 2019 by Matthew Walsh. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Source: These are not the potatoes of my youth (Gooselane Editions, 2019)



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