matrix: the new vancouver

Posted by Daniela Elza on Sep 07 2009

I was happy to find out that matrix magazine picked up my poem negotiating with the dead written on my first visit to the Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver. Visiting the cemetery was something ordinary for my grandmother. I remember going to the main cemetery in Sofia when my mom’s mom died. We were there for the funeral and after that we walked through the shady lanes and I asked her to take me to my grandfather’s grave.

That is my dad’s dad who died when my dad was a year old. Sometime later she married my step grandfather, who was the only grandfather I knew. We walked and walked, round and round. After quite a while of walking around, she said she did not remember where the grave was. For some reason I did not believe she did not know where it was. But to this day I do not understand why she never took me to it. That was such a disappointment to me. I still, to this day, have not visited my grandfather’s grave.

He was an engineer, one of the three people to install the first radio in Bulgaria, lectured, and edited a radio journal. The year was 1926. A journal for radio lovers. When I was studying at Sofia University I looked up the journal and was so excited to touch something from my family history that I did not know about until I was in my 20s. I was in a hurry then, studying for exams with short deadlines, so did not have much time to browse through it.

Now that I am myself publishing I am excited about these family connections to people I never met or knew. My other grandfather, my mom’s dad, owned his own printing press and was the printer in the little town he lived in.

So are these coincidences? Or do these things get somehow transmitted through the generations? I have been committed to writing as far back as I remember. Before five. I remember competing with my sister on how many poems we could write in a day. Or something silly like that. I particularly remember one I wrote about a daisy. Well, I do not remember the poem, just the feeling.

When I went to the Mountain View Cemetery I felt the rush of that regret, and sadness. That is perhaps why my grandfather made it into the poem. I was surprised myself. Some questions never leave us.

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