Archive for October, 2015


This list of scribbles, once folded
in the middle. A Hansel-Gretel map
of seven words that won’t add up.

It doesn’t say what necklace –
whether to choose, to return,
or have the broken made whole.

And what of the book? Did you
find it, skim a few pages, skip
ahead, decide it wasn’t for you?

Did the title trigger a plan
to run full tilt and dodge
the danger of staying in place?

Your list, if it escaped a pocket or
negligent hand, fell prey to the ditch,
the rough undergrowth of town.

Days outside claimed their toll,
rendered this scrap a relic
whose glyphs baffle and fade.

Maybe you let go on purpose
and reached for better that day –
a story you could read to the end.

Ingrid Ruthig lives on the shore of Lake Ontario, and just east of Toronto. She is the author of Slipstream, Synesthete II, and editor of The Essential Anne Wilkinson and Richard Outram: Essays on His Works. Her work has appeared widely in many Canadian and international publications, including The Best Canadian Poetry, Numéro Cinq, The Malahat Review, and National Post. As a visual artist, she alters existing print language and image to create a fusion in her award-winning textworks, which have been shown in various galleries and are held in private collections. A volume of Ingrid’s poems will be published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside in April 2016.

She can be found at


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rolli“One night, coming back from a friend’s, I found my dad lying on his back on the lawn.”



World class salon.

What exactly does that mean, anyway?

Winner of Canadian Salon Business Excellence, Five Star Service. What does that mean?

Kinda thinking it means not very much after this appointment with Matina. Oh, Matina, you’re a nice lady. You’re a skilled conversationalist, and obviously you’ve been working in public service a long time because you have conversation down to a fine art. The listening part of the whole exchange? Not so much.

This is what I say when I come in, pointing to my wild thatch: Trim the ends, not too much off. Reshape the bangs. Cut in some more long layers. You nod. Fine, no problem, you hear this all the time, no doubt. Matina is a pro, I feel confident of this as we talk. We go to the back, and I sink into the sink chair. Water temperature’s perfect, subtle jasmine shampoo scent soothes. You massage my scalp and I melt, almost drift off. Then it’s back to the chair, draped in plastic, and while you comb and snip and comb and snip and comb and snip, we talk.

Oh, do we talk. Movies, relationships, current affairs, travel, books, the economy, the price of groceries, reality TV (my favourite oxymoron), breeds of dogs. You move with acrobatic daring from one topic to the next, faster than I can, and I’m a seasoned talker myself. Before I know it you’re done cutting, and I have forgotten to watch what you’re doing. You’ve succeeded in distracting me. For a second I see your eye flicker from the ends of my hair to my eyes, and I look, too. It looks pretty short. But then it’s supposed to look shorter right after you get it cut, no?

I see, as you blow dry it, that it is not what I asked for at all. It’s the same cut I saw on the lady walking out of here when I came in; it’s the same cut on the other lady you were finishing up with as I flipped through a magazine. It’s the ubiquitous shoulder length bob, it’s the same haircut you gave them. I’ll bet it’s the same damn haircut you give everyone. No, it’s not what I asked for at all.

But I am nothing if not a pragmatist. Hair, once cut, cannot be uncut. I know this to be true. Letting it grow back in is all there is for it. I am a pragmatist and I am also a Canadian. I thank you for the cut. I tip you. And despite my disappointment, I will more than likely, in the fullness of time, make another appointment with you. Because I enjoy good conversation. And because this is a World Class Salon, after all.

Lori Hahnel  is the author of two novels, Love Minus Zero (Oberon, 2008) and After You’ve Gone (Thistledown, 2014), as well as a story collection, Nothing Sacred (Thistledown, 2009), which shortlisted for an Alberta Literary Award. Her work has been nominated for the Journey Prize three times and published in over thirty journals across North America and in the U.K.; her credits include CBC Radio, The Fiddlehead, Joyland and The Saturday Evening Post.  Lori teaches creative writing at Mount Royal University and the Alexandra Writers’ Centre.

She can be found at


Up Next:

ruthig“… A Hansel-Gretel map
of seven words that won’t add up.”