The girls practice magic tricks, pore over magic books, collect coins and cards and homemade wands. Phil buys them new decks of cards in shiny gold boxes, like cigarettes. They hold them with reverence, deal the cards out into piles over and over, amazed at the power of conjuring magic.

I sit in a corner booth with a friend, feel tears pool against my eyelashes as we tell the truth about mothering and marriage and conversations with pious, perfect friends. My coffee turns lukwarm between my hands as the relief of honesty fills my lungs.

We let the birdfeeder sit empty and every day, the bronze mannekins land on the terracotta edge and shake their heads in disbelief, small quivering movements. In this land of drought and helplessness in the face of people dying of starvation, I am ashamed to have even failed in this small thing. I pour small seeds from a plastic bag, am grateful that the mannekins keep returning.

I read about trees and can’t believe how much there is to learn, how wide their mysteries. I trace my fingers over dark knots in bark, whisper apologies for careless nails we’ve hammered into so much flesh, regret the rocky and lonely locations I’ve chosen for trees in my yard. I stop to tell a tall smooth tree about the anger I haven’t shared with anyone and before I go find that I have kissed the cool trunk. When did I become someone who kisses trees? Why did it take me so long?

M picks up my phone and exclaims over its capabilities. “This,” she lays it in the centre of the counter, “is proof that the world is going crazy.” I smile at her old soul, stir colourful vegetables in a cast iron pan.

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