[sic] magazine - spring 2013 spring 2013 - Page 20
by Jane Stevenson
My mother w as all hard cor ners. Her
body was built like a tr iangle, with wide shoulder s and massive chest narrowing to bird thin legs and size extra small orange logger boots . Other mother s smelled of home baking or hand cream. My mother had this wonderful smell that was a combination of black seaweed and diesel fuel. On the rar e occasions when she w ould allow a kiss on her cheek, my lips afterwards tasted of salt water. She was a hand faller, a lumberjack; she anchored us in coastal Br itish Columbia. A mother and a daughter moored amongst chainsaws and chewing tobacco. She drowned on a rainy afternoon in March four years ago. She w ent out for one mor e run, collecting the rest of her crab pots fr om around Coste Roc k and intended to come straight back. She gave a silent farewell with a shar p nod of her head, oblivious to the rain tha t dripped off the tip of her nose. That day, in her boat, she had used her life jacket as a seat cushion and I watched for the last time as her yellow rain slicker bobbed out of view. I waited an hour. I wasn’t worried. The winds were fine and the tide was right. I just sat under the eaves out of the rain on a sideways turned jerry can and poked at our King Crab dinner still stirring in the salt-water pail. But the sea soaked Stella Marie came in. The cold men pumped full of sur vival told of their nar row escape from a massive rogue wave. One cut the other off, their statements overlapping with adrenalin, “Sea water right over the wheelhouse…” - “I ain’t never seen anything like that…” - “Our boat rolled like a whore but she came back up…” - “Christ! A wall of water higher than the City Centre Mall…”. One bristled jaw clacked shut after another as they realized I was waiting for someone. They radioed Search and Rescue while I walked the docks in the rain. I watched the Douglas Channel. I wanted her boat to suddenly cut through the low clouds. I walked to the mar ina restaurant and rested my head against the hand scra wled ‘Absolutely no f’ing cork boots!’
sign and reminded myself to breath. The waitresses inside huddled up and spok e to each other. They covered their sad mouths as if their efforts might someho w stop m y panic as it crept up the back of my throat and burned my tongue. I floundered for hope and imag ined mom appearing, her boa t thumping the crest of the waves, cutting her engine as she approached the dock; she would tie an easy doc k knot and sa y something sassy to the Search and Rescue men, like, “What’s the occasion boys, you guys finally figure out to put the toilet sea t down?” But my hope sank. I waited for the crac kle of her incoming call on the radio while fast moving men in soaking rain gear rustled up a rescue party out of the random collection of fishermen near the marina. They pointed thick fingers on laminated maps, yelled directions and radio frequencies, and used their gaffs to push their v essels out fr om the docks. Their boat s pulsed over the w aves and I felt the chill of her death settle on my surface—the cold weight of it pushed the breath out of my lungs. I just knew. That was it. I knew my mother was gone. They found her empty boa t that night, half submerged, rocking on the waves and held up on the shores of Summit Bay, cradled around the canop y of fragrant cedar boughs. That rogue wave must have surprised her. Knocked her and those homemade crab r ings straight into the frigid Pacific. I imagine she was hauling lines with her calloused hands, her broad back to the huge w all of approaching salt water. I can feel her sharp shock from the push over the edge. The icy water must have filled her boots and frozen her thin limbs. I can see my mother sink like the anchor that she was. The ocean floor holds her. The steady pulse of the salty sea must have rounded all her hard corners smooth.
[sic] spring 2013.indd 20 13-04-04 1:29 PM