Ripples of Darkness

Jenna Kennedy

A mother's hands stack clean needles, latex gloves.
For our children, she says, for the lost ones.
For the ones we've saved many times before,
For the ones we hope to save just one time more.

Why, neighbours ask while politicians gloat.
Why chain the monster only to offer our throats?
Why save a life to simply hand them the knife?

Do you see, can't you see, why can't you see?!

The blade's been here all this time, sharpened with age;
clattered down from a war, from the mines, from the sea.
The monster's been prodded to this uncontrollable rage.
Dominion dragged out the last job, sycophants promise hope.
Drinking deep of red water, forbidden to choke.
Go down to the pump, or go into the city.
Haul your own share, don't wait on my pity.
Come 'round now b'y, we can't save you again.
But if not again, then when?

When will they give us the Suboxone we need?
When will the men on the hill see the children that we grieve?

The neighbours run as they hear the song of the fairies;
beautiful and haunting, it puts the children at ease.
So fair is the hag as she comes up from the Garden.
Come with me young one and I'll offer my pardon,
for the things that you've seen and the cross that you bare.
The pain of your father will no longer be yours to share.

She speaks in riddles; the spirits of dead miners lead them below.
And they go...
Too far too reach, too confused to hear.
The flute and dry house song catches the ear,
of anyone who will stop to listen.

A mother remains at the battery to fight her daughter's demons.
She arms the coastal fortifications while shining a beacon,
to the country that forgot a long time ago,
Wabana's children didn't die with the mine.
They did not go down with the ship and did not vanish with time.

And as shift changes, night falls she returns to the beach.
If she's lucky she found just one soul to reach.
If she's lucky her daughter will know that she's loved.
A mother's hands stack clean needles, latex gloves.
For our children, she says, for the lost ones.


Author Statement:

"Ripples of Darkness" was written in response to the media coverage of the ongoing fight of Heal Bell Island, a courageous group of mothers working to support their children who are living with addiction in the isolated Newfoundland community. Living and raising a child in Winnipeg, a city gripped by the methamphetamine crisis, I was surprised when I returned to my paternal family's home on Bell Island, Newfoundland to find the opioid epidemic thriving in the quiet town. Bell Island once boomed as a successful ore mining hub, but with the mine's closure in the 1960s the population has plummeted and any support for those who continue to reside on the island—including my own grandfather—has dwindled. Today Bell Island remains a place of inexpressible beauty, but the tap water runs dirty with the dregs of iron ore and drugs continue to haunt the community like the fabled Hag of Dobbin's Garden or the fairies who are said to enchant you away with their hypnotizing music. The youngest generations—the future of the island—are particularly afflicted. As a mother with a strong connection to this beautiful place stretching back hundreds of years, the strife of these strong women is close to my heart.

I am a young woman and a mother of one, who works as a social worker in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I am honoured to have the opportunity to support my neighbours to accomplish their goals, and have always found solace in creative writing. I have self-published one novel and am the winner of Broken Pencil magazine’s 1-2 Punch Book Pitch. When not at my day job, with my son, or on the soccer pitch, I can be found with pen in hand, working on my latest novel.

“It's Canadian, feminist, and one of my favourite things ever.”

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