The Notched Wing

Helen Tara Hughes – Poetry, Fiction, Film, Phantasms


When you were a little kid, did your parents make a big deal out of your birthday? or not?

And now, as an adult, how does that affect you when your birthday comes around?

When i was a little kid, my parents loved to spring surprises on us on the farm – they did it all the time.

Birthdays were fun because of the surprises you knew would happen.

I have friends who don’t like surprise. I like surprises from thoughtful friends, because life is so full of nasty ones – so it is fun, it is counter-balance to the ever-present not-so-friendly surprises of daily existence.

Today was my birthday, and I was surprised over and over by my pals – I am so wealthy in my friends, I realize yet again.

My roommate snuck flowers into my room, and later, when I came home from working at the Bar (yes, i know, i had to work, and boy did we ever get RAmmed, the whole place full on a monday, WTF!) he had left something more – poems and a key chain that is very 80′s, all cheeky and iridescent. It makes me wish I had streamers on my bike handles.

A new friend, gave me a piece of jewelry she made years ago, which survived a family house-fire.
And a neck band for my keys
( i always lose my keys!)
which is black with skulls on it.
it is soooo nasty and i love it.
But not as much as the necklace from the fire.

the Goddess came to the Bar tonite with a handmade bracelet-
full of light and shine, and steel and sharp pointy bits of strength
it is a remarkable piece to just look at sitting on the counter
let alone on your wrist…

One pal gave me a rubber ducky for my Bathtoy collection
(the collection which drives my roommate nuts)
and one pal bought me breakfast over business talk

and one person reminded me
that my life is worth more than $250 bucks,
or any amount of cash i might make at the bar

a Regular brought in his Psychic – she read my palm for free
a Regular who is a wildlife photographer opened his portfolio
and said … “go on…pick anything… it’s yours”
more ART

and the sax player from the band last night
popped out of a corner as I wiped a table near the front,
long after he was supposed to have left the bar,
he had snuck back hours later to play “happy birthday”
and that was amazing

one pal wrote the year in my birthday card (fuck your age!)
2 pals called me over and over until they got me (at the bar, wild drunkards screaming in the background),
one pal sent me a package -i still have to go and get it -

and my brother and I talked about great things
more than once in the same day

my mom waits in her inimitable way
to see you, touch you, surprise you
just like the old days – see, i am going home soon
and she is waiting

the emails and calls with warm wishes
my friends, my dear hearts, my warrior people
thriving in the arts all across canada

who don’t just “want” like the lustful people I serve at the Bar
but who give back to me in creative and sustaining ways
that speak of their unique-ness

and then

the piece de resistance –

some anonymous person left a gift in my mailbox
it is unsigned

and it is the perfect gift
scholarly yet sensual

its a book

and books are the greatest love of my life

since i was a little little little kid

…i don’t know who it was

maybe someone who knows
i love

so i feel wealthy indeed
and thankful
in my little attic room

and that’s a Surprise too

Author: smallboy

Helen Tara Hughes is a writer, producer and actor. An award-winning theatre performer, she cut her teeth in classical and new work at major theatres across Canada, including the Stratford Festival. Her first taste of documentary work – a POV radio documentary for CBC’s ‘Outfront’ – gave her the documentary bug, and in 2009 she transitioned into Producing with the feature documentary, Goodness in Rwanda. As a writer, she has been published by, Eros Digest, and TWISI, and has a book of short stories that will be published in the fall of 2012. As a filmmaker, she creates short films based on poetic writing. She moonlights as an Asst Producer and Coordinator for documentary, factual, and independent films, and is developing a slate of her own media projects for 2013.

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