Written by Cornelia Hoogland | #NoOneSucceedsAlone
My support for writing “Trailer Park Elegy” comes partly from my dog. When my brother died unexpectedly, I envisioned my dog as my driver who would ‘guide’ through grief’s ‘underworld;’ I’d be the passenger beside him in my red Toyota. My brother’s death had catapulted me into an otherness (underworld) that my dog, rather than humans, could help explain to me. I abandoned the idea of ‘dog as driver’ along the way, but his role as guide shapes the book: “When it hits me. When I hear. When the field of my brother’s death becomes my field–something touches me, back of the knee. My dog, leash between his teeth. I follow him to the beach, glad to be tethered.” As I wrote, I followed my dog’s lead; he taught me about death. “To the dog’s keen nose you’re here in the clouds of molecules you left behind.” He led me along the beach, snout pointed upwards. “At the horizon, fold where sky and water meet, the membrane between the living and the dead thins. I listen to an outboard motor diminish, reverberate––that half-life between sound and memory of sound.” I capture his support of my literary practice in this small poem:
Don’t throw yourself away on the world, but wait.
I meet myself every day in these lines.
My impatience, my striving. I wake early and write in bed.
My sleeping husband, my dog. More and more I feel
ripples of tenderness toward me and my efforts to find balance.
Like learning to bowl. All those gutter balls.
See Cornelia at the 2018 Whistler Writers Festival
- READING EVENT 8: Writers of Poetry – Thin Places | Saturday, October 13, 2018 | 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. | Fairmont Chateau Whistler