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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 3, September 2018

Theresa A. Cancro on Michael Dylan Welch's "Something Lost"

Michael Dylan Welch's "Something Lost" struck a chord with me. I, too, remember the summer of 1967, a watershed season for me at age eleven.

Michael's description of his childhood accident leading to a bandaged head and ultimately his missing out on the most exciting part of a family visit to Niagara Falls triggered my memory of an incident that very same summer. It also involved a hill, tumbling, a scar of sorts and loss.

After dinner every evening, my friend and I would head out, bikes in tow, to a nearby hilly street used almost exclusively by residents, where there was little, if any, traffic. It was the same hill we had sledded as kids with my friend's younger siblings. During the summer, we started riding double, one of us steering the bike, the other hanging on from the back as we careened down the slope. I don't remember clearly who was at the front that evening, although I think I was riding in back. When we abruptly turned left where the street dead ended, a car swerved to avoid us. That's the last thing I recall. Later, I found out we'd hit against the curb, both flying off and crashing into the pavement. I was knocked unconscious and my friend suffered injury to her face, one tooth knocked out. A cascade of events unfolded: Neighbors called our parents, someone called an ambulance; flashing lights and confusion were everywhere, according to my mother. I woke up in the emergency room, a doctor prompting me to touch my nose, testing my reflexes. I was told that in the ambulance I'd repeatedly wanted to know where my friend was, then asked if I was dead.

Like Michael, I don't remember much pain. I recovered from the concussion, my friend had dental work to restore her tooth, but the accident marked the beginning of the end of my childhood. Unlike Michael, I have no scar from that moment to mark the event, yet it rendered an invisible cicatrix. My friend eventually moved away, and we've kept in touch over the years. But something had been lost. Yes, "Something Lost" was the carefree innocence of my childhood and the sense of safe haven, both of which I took for granted. Life, as I learned sooner than I'd have liked, was full of unpredictable pitfalls and turns of fate. The accident defined an abrupt moment, a threshold over which I tumbled into my adolescence toward adulthood.

Theresa A. Cancro is an award-winning writer whose poetry, fiction and nonfiction have appeared in dozens of publications worldwide. In recent years, she has concentrated on writing haiku, senryu, haibun, tanka, tanka prose and related short-form poetry as well as flash fiction. Her work has been published in Modern Haiku, The Heron's Nest, Presence, Mayfly, Cattails, Shamrock, Chrysanthemum, Blithe Spirit, Hedgerow, Ribbons, and Haibun Today among many other journals and anthologies, both online and in print.

Michael Dylan Welch
Sammamish, Washington, USA

Something Lost

I had to stay back from the water. Not just any water, but Niagara Falls. Underground. Inside the waterfall. A white bandage around my head.

My brother and sister got to go to the edge, my mother and father holding their hands in the wet stone tunnel. Though we’d each been given thick yellow raincoats, I couldn’t get my stitches wet and had to stay about twenty feet back. The roar of the water made it hard to hear, but Mummy had yelled to me to stay back, holding me there before going forward herself, to see the back side of the great waterfall, to become drenched by the spray, to marvel in the thunderous shaking of the bedrock.

I don’t recall how long they stood there, getting wet while I stayed dry. I don’t remember the tunnels or steps (or was there an elevator?) that got us there. All I remember is that ache of staying back, the frustration of not getting the full adventure—the moment of losing that experience.

scuffed boots—
the rippling puddle
cold to my finger

I still have the scar. Above my left eye. Seven stitches. The summer of 1967. Our family newly transplanted to Canada from England, visiting Expo 67 in Montreal. We had a Starcraft tent trailer, parked on a wide hill overlooking the French-Canadian city. My father relaxed on a lawn chair by the trailer door, his feet extended out in front of him. For some reason I had to run into the trailer, to get some toy, or maybe my mother. I never got there. I went sprawling, tripping over my dad’s outstretched feet. Head first against the trailer’s iron step, narrowly missing my eye, deeply cutting the corner of my forehead.

I don’t remember pain. Or blood. Just walking out of the doctor’s office with my head bandaged, and climbing into the Mercedes. I remember getting a tick in the back of my neck in Bergen, Norway, 1972, my parents “operating” on me with unsterilized tweezers as I bent over, face down, between them in our Commer Highwayman motorhome with the yellow British license plate number of KTW 866J. It never stopped me from seeing any fjord or Stave church.

But I didn’t get to see Niagara Falls, inside. I had to stay back. I’ve wanted to return ever since. If you can still go inside, down the stone tunnels, I don’t know. But someday I’ll go and see. Someday I’ll try to get it back, to get back whatever it was that I lost.

toddler’s birthday—
I run my finger
along his first scar



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