YYC POP: Poetic Portraits of Poetry, a Sheri-D Wilson Laureate Project

Living Nine Lives; Making the Impossible Possible

– Peggy Au

Thousands of steps in Mainland China, Taiwan, Manitoba 1964, Alberta 1968
An army rat; with her home as a 2-foot square; tattoos on her feet and neck; her dog tags
Uprooted by war, no real roots or feelings of belonging; picking up many languages
Once a nurse now filtering her blood several hours a week; now in a nursing home
Lost in childhood, losing a sister, hoping for adulthood, losing many friends
Calgary her stable home where many others find a new home

Cultural challenges with strength, hope, and support along her path
Some support thrown away like broken glass
Her story changes; the shape of reality, the honesty, the truth, her dreams far from reality;
Artistic talents dancing, singing, pottery shapes, a Chinese cooking show; at times now only a glow
Anger simmers and sparks, never knowing when it explodes or ignites
Unpredictable, feelings of distrust and shame, always hoping for a normal life

Up and down living in the heights; then drowning in fears always looking towards the light
A ride for her, her family, all throughout her life
Specialists search for the best home; her house, assisted living, now a nursing home
Pills collected in wine glasses; non-compliance brings all colours of the sky
Upper arm bruises from the treads of her car
Broken bones, shaved and stitched up head, flipped car, missing keys and a lost Virginia ham

In the past, a mother and daughter take drives in the country
Practicing, teaching, away from everyday life
An orange bicycle, red Pontiac, green Jeep Cherokee, dad’s yellow Pinto, silver Jetta
The mother drives while talking and sharing her life unlived
Raising her children, friendships broken, marriage torn
Her own dreams unfulfilled; from compost the roots sprouts living strength

Roast beef, steamed fish, yams, corn, watermelon scoops at a time
Once homemade noodles, buns, soy bean milk, now purchased away from home
Neil Diamond, Engelbert Humperdink, Lawrence Welk, Anne Murray
Alfred Hitchcock, Sound of Music, Camelot, My Fair Lady, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Wizard of Oz
NHL hockey, Sunday Night Disney, traveling on the continents; her tattooed feet dipped in the Black Sea
Mixing her old Chinese folksongs with her broken English; mixing the best of both cultures

Away from the ugly with positive shining through; not reality but dreams come true
From fear, shame, the roots and branches reach out and grow with light
Colourful blossoms and buds expressing delight; her smile now an amazing sight
Through the years in southern Alberta
Her softest hands make the impossible possible
Surviving her last and final resilient life

Peggy Au

Peggy Au, born and raised in Lethbridge, moved to Calgary in October 2012.  The celebration of culture through food is her favourite aspect about living in Calgary.  She has fond memories of family day trips to Calgary to watch Bruce Lee movies, attend the Stampede, shop in Chinatown, eat Country Style Donuts, and attend operas with her parents at the Jubilee Auditorium.

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