Archive for the ‘Adventures’ Category

Seventy three years ago up-river of the majestic Kaiteur Falls, a little girl named Edna was placed in a boat and travelled down the Potaro river, then down the Essequibo, to Georgetown (Guyana).  Edna never saw her Patamona mother again.

That little girl grew up, and her love of children lead her to help raise children within her family, and then work for Missionaries and Diplomats in Georgetown. The legacies of patriarchy, colonialism, and capitalism played out in this one life such that terrible wrongs were complemented by tremendous good.  But for her Afro-Guyanese father’s intervention, Edna would have grown up in the Patamona Village of Karisparu, not Georgetown.  But for the colonial system that brought Western Aid to Guyana, she would not have worked for Missionaries and Diplomats. But for the Capitalist system which makes it economically (though not morally) reasonable for women to work raising rich people’s children far away from their own children, Edna would not have ended up in Canada for the last 30 years of her life.

Thus the forces that have brought so much harm and suffering also meant that many children passed through Edna’s loving hands, and ended up all over the world.

I am one of those children who benefited so much from Edna’s presence in my life.  This is the story of how I try to decolonize myself, and try to find a way to share the benefits I received from her love, and yet fight the forces that brought me this undeserved privilege.  Though the main voyage to these goals is internal, the outer manifestation is my journey back to the village where Edna was born: Karisparu.

Edna died in 2009.  She never returned to Karisparu.

The idea to do this grew from my 2006 trip to Kaiteur falls.  A typical tourist day-trip experience, the hours were too brief.  It wasn’t just beautiful. I felt something special there.  Something that calls me back.  Then I heard more about Edna’s story, and realized I had been just a short ways from Edna’s birthplace.   I wondered what it had been like for Edna’s mother to never see her daughter again.  I wondered if there were any relatives still alive who remembered this, or if there were stories.  I wondered if people from Karisparu would be interested in hearing about Edna’s life.

I don’t know what will come of this.  Maybe nothing.  Maybe only some closure for myself.  Maybe something beautiful.

What I do know is I have to go.


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my brother raps on the door:

“do you see what’s going on out there?!?”

we gaze at the inferno from the window

i throw on clothes, join them outside.

we can feel the heat,

night sky lit orange

the first building an unfinished wood skeleton

burns with ferocious intensity

small tornadoes whip up from the fire’s heart

blur the line between flame and smoke

embers shoot up into the sky,

blot out stars with their falling Milky Way

hail down on us, a fiery snowstorm

some wide as your fist

one lands in my wet hair

smolders til knocked away

scent of singed hair mixes with campfire

then the second building goes up

its almost finished

shingles, sidings, insulation

shifts the smoke from wholesome campfire scent to toxic plume

lucky the smoke is high.


no one lives in the unfinished buildings.

we enjoy shock & awe without guilt

the beauty is terrible and humbling

but we are safe

i think of the age old war tactic

of burning villages & cities

imagine this heat and ember hail and smoke

but  running terrified, choking, heart-hammering

from flaming home, soldiers ready to pounce


who did this?

i joke it was the deer

revenge for Urbandale destroying

their forest-home.


fire wizard (kanata 4 May 2010) Photo Credit: Curtis Chaffey

we are fascinated and terrified by fire

small & controlled, fire serves & comforts

can be a candle for kindness


fire is wild

fire is ready

fire is hungry for opportunity

in a heartbeat,

fire can blaze from servant

to angry god.


hailsorm of embers (kanata fire 4 May 2010). Photo Credit: Curits Chaffey



note: title inspired by Louis Helbig’s Beautiful Destruction photographs of the Alberta Tar Sands

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