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

Jobs Done Right

– Rachel Crooks

Her family has lived and died within the same square kilometer –
Outskirts turned prized inner-city lot
Apple picking in a small backyard, gnomes in the garden –
Where an industrious railroad engineer and politically-minded volunteer
Raised my mother.

I bother her and my dad every Friday evening,
Arriving unannounced for pizza and wine and laundry –
She’ll sigh when I say my pants need hemming, but her practiced hand never measures wrong –
She pins fabric around my ankles and I like to picture her at work,
Sewing the styles of the 80s –
Angry brides with puffy sleeves and extravagance,
And one thousand hand sewn beads –
Passing the old shop on 17th avenue, I make sure to stop my friends:
Did you know what my mom used to do?

It’s Monday now, her work day, making sense out of code at her consultant gig –
We meet for lunch at a small local place where they know her name and order,
And she recounts to me the technological disaster of the week –
I remember dancing around her computer as a child, distracting her from learning,
Her home office a cluttered mess of papers, heavy books about javascript and CSS stacked haphazardly,
Seeing the inner bones of the internet, creating ways to communicate
for people who would come by for dinner –
authors and metal-workers and small publishers.

Criss-crossing the city later in a little red car,
What neighbourhood is this? I can ask anywhere, and I get accounts of
Her latest evenings and weekends:
Houses she has been inside, stories she has been told –
A family of ten looking (desperately) for more bedrooms,
Job loss and heartbreak and finding fewer square feet,
Squirrel hideouts and kraft dinner that expired in 1989 –
The ins and outs, the quirks and oddities –
Of homes and people scattered across the city.

I help load up her horse at 6AM on a July morning –
Preparing for a trek to the Stampede grounds,
Blearily clutching the coffee I insisted we stop for –
But I can lift hay bales at 27 the same way I could when I was 12, because she taught me:
Industry and inventiveness, not in a boastful way,
Just a way to get a job done and done well –
Measure twice, cut once –
If you’re not going to do it right the first time, don’t do it at all –
Take all the advice you can get and then do what you damn well please.

Rachel Crooks

Rachel Crooks is an emerging writer from Calgary, Alberta. She is a graduate student at the University of Calgary, and enjoys creative writing in her spare time. Her work has been previously published in FreeFall Magazine.