‘By the Moose of Moses’

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing growing up in Cape Breton. Check the Village Stories page http://wp.me/P1RtxU-1fT here for previous pieces in this series posted in July/August 2014

By the Moose of Moses

‘by the enflamed dick of the moose of Moses’

my Dad was shouting

we knew he was really really angry

the more words he used

when he stared to swear

the angrier he was

none of wanted to know why he was angry


my mother would bundle the clothes

and head down to the river

my sisters would go to their rooms

to start preparing for their shifts at the strip bars

my brothers

if they were around

would be suddenly very very busy

with the gutting of moose

helping one another bloody their hair


I was often the only one left

for him to vent his wrath upon

that wrath was always words

never directed at me

but someone had to bare witness to his anger

or it got worse and worse

till one of the neighbours would come over

eyes darting around fearfully

to see what the commotion was


‘by the scraped udders of mother moose’

my Dad kicked at the bench in his workshop

I peeped around the corner

‘come in here now you little smelt fornicator’

‘yes Dad.’

I would inch into the room

‘have you been in here?’

‘no Dad’


I hunched my shoulders to hide my guilt

because I had been there

enjoying the play of sunlight on his tools

that hung in neat rows on the wall

or playing with boys

in the bone dust on the floor



‘just take a look around’


I couldn’t see anything amiss

the skidoo he was rebuilding stood

where it had for years

except on the two days

when it was working properly

the outboard motor he had salvaged swung overhead


‘i … i don’t see anything’

‘then open your eyes boy’


night had fallen

it was now so dark

I could barely make out his eyes

‘when I find out who did

this there’ll be hell to pay’

he struck match

in that brief flare of light I was aghast

he had dared to break the prohibition

even a glimpse of light

after nightfall was punishable

I knew whatever this was it was serious


‘you sure you weren’t in here’

‘no Dad. i swear it wasn’t me’

taking my first step

to becoming

a guilt ridden adult


red robot

This is the first time I’ve looked at many of these pieces in several years. The start of this reminds me of Nuncle John (http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Qe ) with its rich, nearly ridiculous swearing. It quickly references my fascinating with Moose as animals of reverence. It also adds layers to the odd tribal mythology of the village – smearing moose blood, washing clothes by the stream, strip clubs.


cute robot

It also plays on the reality of Dad rage & how different members of the family would respond to it, leaving the least able to defend themselves to face it.  That rage is always harder to cope with when one has been guilty of something. ‘How I Learned to Play With Boys’ http://wp.me/p1RtxU-O2 is relative here as this is why my hero had some guilt about being in the workshop.


well hung robot

His levels of guilt are many – being where he shouldn’t be, lying, flaunting cultural taboos by playing with boys. I love the image of the match lighting the Dad’s face for a moment. Sort of that moment of clarity one wants to step back from but not knowing where to step to except into guilt. The first lie to protect one’s own secrets.


November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo



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