Malahat Highway On Boxing Day

by Jill Talbot

We pass a street with the same name as my mother. We pass signs and car headlights like a pinball machine. I don’t remember the name for home. Everything looks like a toy when you’re on a soma holiday. I know someone named Duncan. Better to share a name with a town than a street, but my mother has both. I guess better yet to have a name of a country. Sweden? Argentina? They don’t make soma like they did in the movies. Every turn makes me nauseous. I think of the dead rat on my porch left to me as a gift from Secret Santa. There were snowflakes taped to the wall of the library with masking tape holding them in place. I thought the point of snowflakes is that they fall. Snow falls in a forest as we fall, not knowing whether or not it’s better to be captured or forgotten. I almost thought the rat was a toy. Its teeth poked out of its mouth like it were clawing out of womb and strangled with its umbilical cord. Once I took an extended holiday and the smell of dead rat got in all of my clothes and everything. We pass a snowman that gives me the finger. I blew a kiss back just to prove I will not be broken. A powerline falls.

Jill M. Talbot’s writing has appeared in Geist, Rattle, subTerrain, PRISM, The Stinging Fly, and others. Jill won the PRISM Grouse Grind Lit Prize. She was shortlisted for the Matrix Lit POP Award and the Malahat Far Horizons Award. Jill lives on Gabriola Island, BC.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “MALAHAT HIGHWAY ON BOXING DAY”?

    I’m not sure what to say about it. I have written quite a bit on the Greyhound trip—from Nanaimo BC to Victoria BC and back. It was Christmas time and I always get a lot of writing around that time because it makes me sad. Otherwise all I really remember is being very close to broken. Perhaps also the tape–I’m not sure why the tape holding up the snowflakes got to me so much but it did. Imagining things like snowmen coming to life is what’s saved me during times like these. I wonder if a Greyhound trip can change one into a different person. Some of my writing feels like it was written by someone else. Like I too am held together by tape.


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