It’s on my bucket list to publish a novel. Over the last twenty years I wrote three novels (although I don’t like them so they will never be published). That’s okay: I learned about character development, story arc, conflict, dialogue, and voice. Now I want to put that 10,000 hours+ of practice to use and write something that I love, something will make an impact. Write an important story that reminds us of our humanity, connects to Métis family history, and shares the beauty of Georgian Bay.
Our family history in Britt, Ontario, is rich and goes back to before the town had its name. Britt stretches down one road off Highway 69 along Still River to Lake Magnetewan and out to the mouth of Georgian Bay.
Mom worked on a population study when she was in high school (in the late 60s) and reported five hundred people lived there then. Approximately, three hundred people live in Britt now.
Today I dream of summer. The sun on my face. The relaxed rhythm of the day. When I was a young teen I remember drifting on the Magnetewan River in a canoe reading for hours. I wrote this poem (inspired by Wallace Stevens) to capture the carefree feeling and the peaceful knowing of having nowhere to be but in a canoe with a great book on a gorgeous summer’s day.
My parents live close to where the Parry Sound 33 Fire started this summer.
moss clings to my
spaces toured by ants and even
Motionless days pass
solid and sound in all seasons,
even this one, until my senses blistered.
Organized signals for help
unseen as my sedentary
service in subterranean
bass tones even
eluded that fir and birch and spruce and pine
who once stood beside me night and day.
Knowing boots rested on my back, even as I slept
as choked branches lay across my face, as I ate
soaked dreams drank my lineage
hardening the horizon–
Even until smouldering spells
struck nine and I waited to exhale.
© Jessica Outram
Photo collection of Gereaux Island Lighthouse, near Britt/Byng Inlet, Ontario. My grandfather grew up in this lighthouse.
Most pictures were taken on the south shore, Britt/Byng Inlet.
Georgian Bay: July, 1988. The clouds feather high in the cobalt sky. When Evergreen floats near the shore, I climb out the nose and jump to the rock holding the rope. My feet splash into the water. I stumble. My cousin Michael laughs.