“Welcome back to the YWB 660 AM, the writer’s network for tips, interviews and great reads. It is 11:24 and I’m Dave Connors. We are here today with award winning poet Teagan McLeay, to discuss her poems, new and old, influences, and what has made her such a success. At the age of nineteen she has written such inspirational poems as That Night, Seaside Memories , and Shadows. Hello Teagan.”
“Hi Dave, and thank you for inviting me to your show.”
“Your welcome, and thanks for accepting the invitation….”
He kept talking but I drew myself out of focus, I heard the occasional word, telling myself that I had to listen because the questions were coming. Some I could answer some I would be forced to. I have had many years practice in listening to certain words, telling me when to answer, it’s a skill that has, and always will, come in handy.
“…but forgetting all that, who would you say are your favourite poets and their poems?”
“Huh? Oh, I guess they would have to be Dorthey Parker, Resume and Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay.”
“Well known and very powerful poems. As our listeners may know Resume is a very ironic poem…”
Once again he continued, and again I lost focus. I wanted to go home, but my agent said that this was a great way to promote my work. I really didn’t want to be here, being forced to say things that I didn’t want to, being the someone that I’m really not.
“….and those are wonderful works by the two authors. At only nineteen you have show the world how amazing your work really can be. To be able to give us a whole story in eight lines or to show depth and feeling in every word is an amazing talent. We must know who is to thank for this Teagan?”
“Uh, well I guess if it wasn’t for my father, Jeff McLeay, I wouldn’t have been able to write the way I do. “
“Well what do you mean by that? Was it a good or bad influence that he had on you and your writing?”
“Well on my writing it was a great influence but on me it wasn’t. He showed me emotions so strong that if I hadn’t written them down, I may not have been here with you today….”
“I’ve never heard this part of your past; can you tell us your story? The one of you, your father, and your poetry.”
This is the part of the interview I knew had to happen but was dreading. I didn’t want to talk of my past, my father, or my mother. It was in a part of my memory that I had locked away, hoping never to think of again. The world was about to hear of my past and I slowly began to talk hoping that my voice did not quiver, praying my hands not to shake, and telling my eyes to stay dry...
“Teagan dinner is ready, time to eat”
Yes that was back in a peaceful time, we ate together, laughed together, and talked together. Mom, dad and I were as close as a family comes. I was twelve then, half way through grade seven. Mom’s golden hair flowed in the wind while she called me in for dinner. I ran up to our tiny house on the hill and hurried inside for something to eat, wondering what was for dinner. Dad was already at the table when I sat down and mom was serving up our plates, chicken and rice, my favourite.
“How was your day dad?” I asked with the same enthusiasm as I did every day.
“Well dear,” Dad started, “It was a good day but some of the other truckers were kind of edgy today. Everyone was so tense because of the new management; you don’t know what a new boss will be like. Other than that, the roads were great, the day was sunny and I get to spend the night with to most beautiful girls in the world.”
“Well you sound like you’re in a cheery mood dear,” mom commented, blue eyes glittering like stars. It was true though, I hadn’t seen dad like this in a long time.
We ate the rest of dinner in peaceful conversation trying to figure out why dad was being like this today. I was almost done dinner when the phone rang. Dad got up in a hurry and answered the phone. Mom and I exchanged confused glances, usually during dinner dad would just let the phone ring. We sat there listening dad’s one sided conversation. “Yes, yes, that’s wonderful Mr. Renaldo. Of course, I don’t think they will.” At this mom and I looked up from our plates, we didn’t need to say it, we knew they were talking about us. “Okay, see you then. Good-bye” and he hung up the phone.
“What was that all about honey? Who is Mr. Renaldo?” mom enquired. “Well,” began dad, “Mr. Renaldo is my new boss. And that, that was me getting a raise.”
Mom and I looked at each other excitedly. “A raise, that’s wonderful dear!”
“Wow dad, that’s great news, is that why you have been so happy tonight?”
“Well he gave me hints today that I would be getting one, but I didn’t think he would be telling me this soon,” dad said with as much surprise as we had on our faces. “the only this is that I have to do a week hull all over Canada, but I thought you girls could manage here alone without me.”
Mom was shining with happiness, “of course we’ll manage. You go out there and get your raise! When do you leave?”
“First thing tomorrow morning,” Dad replied. “I leave here and go to Guelf, which isn’t very far, about a three hour drive, then to Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. After that I come back this way to Ottawa and then back home. About a week’s drive…I better go get packed.” With that he left the table and went up the stairs, each creaking as we climbed.
Mom and I sat in silence; we both knew a week was the longest dad had ever been gone for. I was a bit worried to tell the truth. Mom was sick, and sometimes it got really bad and she had to go to the hospital. What if she got really sick when dad wasn’t here?
As if reading my mind she smiled and said, “Don’t worry I feel fine nothing bad is going to happen.” I smiled back, feeling the warmth of our family all around me. “Okay mom, thanks, I love you” I said beaming and running up to my room.
My room wasn’t the biggest but it was mine, something I was proud of. I had stick figure drawings and short stories everywhere. My few belongings were on my shelf in the corner. I didn’t have much, none of us did, but I was thankful for the love of my family, and having a roof over my head.
After putting on some pyjamas and getting ready for bed I went outside and stood on our porch. I looked out to the valley below our house, autumn in the air. The wind was dancing with the fallen leaves, the leaves twirling and jumping as the wind willed them to. Winter was coming the end of fall, winter on the hill was always cold, and our house was even colder. With no heat we just had mom’s handmade blankets to keep us from freezing. I heard something, creaking the wood on our porch, stopping the flow of the wind.
“It’s a really nice night out, isn’t it?” I heard from behind me.
I looked and dad was standing there. “Ya it is, winter is coming closer and closer,” I replied, being kind of quiet. He came up to lean on the railing with me looking out over the valley. I looked at him, his brown hair flowing in the wind. He must have known I was looking at him because he turned to look at me.
“I need you to look after your mother while I’m gone, okay?” He said seriously, “you two mean everything to me and I don’t know what I’d do if I lost one of you.” He looked at me, as if staring into my soul. He just stood there, his dark brown eyes sparkling; I knew I had to answer him. “Yes, I will, that’s a promise,” I said, knowing that I would not know what to do if I lost one of them.
“You really make me proud Teagan, I love you.” With that he hugged me and I felt the warmth of his heart of my chest, our hearts beating as one. This is a moment I shall remember forever; because it is the first time that I remembered feeling exactly what he was feeling. We both looked out to the vibrant sunset, now showering the clouds with pink and purple. It magic, just the two of us and a beautiful night to look out on, and the stars showing themselves after a days rest.
“Well sport time for bed,” dad said breaking the silence. I looked at his smiling face, “okay dad,” and with that I gave him a hug and went in the house. When I got in the living room mom was sitting there knitting a sweater for the winter. As I entered she looked up, “going to bed dear? Have sweet dreams.” I went over to her and gave her a hug good-night. “I will and you don’t let the bed bugs bite,” I laughed and ran up to my room.
For some reason I couldn’t sleep very well that night. I kept thinking about dad and mom. I was worried to tell the truth but I knew that if anything were to happen I would stay calm and help out. I decided I would help out around the house so mom didn’t have to do so much. After lying there for what felt like hours I decided to turn on my old radio. Listening to music should help me sleep, I hoped.
Finally the music started to drift away, and I was falling into a dream. Sleep had come and all my thoughts were gone.