“When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.”
— Mark Twain

I swear this happened:

In November 1964, shortly after I turned fourteen, I drove downtown with my older sister, Moira, and two of her high school friends—all of them seventeen—to see Bob Dylan perform at Toronto’s Massey Hall. Dylan was twenty-three at the time; Massey Hall, which was on its way to becoming one of the most iconic concert venues on the continent, was seventy. I don’t remember exactly how I ended up being dragged along to hear Dylan, whose voice at the time I thought was beyond bad. Possibly it was a directive from my parents, who were away in New York on their annual fall expedition to hear jazz and didn’t trust me to spend any time at home alone (at least not since their Manhattan trip the previous year, when I enjoyed several unsupervised nights at our house with half a dozen of my friends, deep-frying food in the kitchen and playing hockey in the living room). Even if the concert was a parental decree, though, I can think of just one reason why I would have surrendered without more of a fight. This was Darlene Burke, one of my sister’s two friends who came with us that night. The last time I’d seen Darlene was at my birthday party, in September, when Moira had had people over not for my party but to listen to music—Dylan, probably—in our basement laundry room. At one point, Darlene’s mother called our house looking for her, and my mother sent me downstairs to tell her she was wanted on the phone. When I came into the laundry room, Darlene, who was small and beautiful in a way that made her seem always slightly out of focus, was sitting on the dryer, smoking a cigarette. Instead of hopping down right away to go to the phone, she crooked her index finger at me and, when I reached the dryer, leaned over, whispered, “Happy birthday,” and French kissed me.

It was a first for me. So was the concert. What’s important, though, is that, regardless of the exact reason, I was there. The car we went in—which belonged to Moira’s other friend, a tall, politically serious girl named Marilyn Stransman—was a white Chevy II convertible with a red vinyl interior. I remember thinking I might get the chance to be squashed into the back seat with Darlene, but I was instructed by my sister to ride shotgun beside Marilyn, which did not make me happy. Neither did the length of time it took Marilyn to find a parking spot she could fit the car into. When we finally walked up to Massey Hall, I remember being struck by how unimpressive the entrance was; it was flanked by a set of matching fire escapes and looked more like the back of a building than the front of one. Inside, everything was crowded and hot. Our seats, on the other hand, were terrific, even I knew that: not front row but close enough, three or maybe four rows back, centre section. We sat down, and the lights dimmed on everything but the stage. The hall got very quiet. It reminded me vaguely of being in synagogue. I wondered if it would be as boring. Then Dylan came out of the wings, and everyone started clapping. He was wearing a blue shirt and, for some reason, a scarf. Who wore a scarf inside? His hair was electric and crazy. He adjusted his harmonica holder, which looked like my cousin Miles’s dental headgear, and said, “Hey, man,” to the audience, just those two words, and strummed his guitar once. Then he started to sing.

It wasn’t boring. I knew this as soon as he started singing his first song, “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” I was surprised at how well I knew it—I had only heard it before drifting up through my bedroom floor from the laundry room. The second song he started I knew less well, possibly because it was newer: “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.” The song was about a rich white man who killed a Black maid, Hattie Carroll, with his cane. Dylan sang the first verse and then strummed a bit while everyone waited for the second. But he kept on strumming—longer, I thought, than he should have.

“I don’t know how to tell you this, man,” he said, laughing a little. “But I forget the words.”

And my sister and her friends rose, as one, to tell him what they were.

I hadn’t seen the famous Second World War photo of US Marines raising the American flag on Iwo Jima at this point in my life, but memory is a fluid thing, and in my mind’s eye, that’s the pose the three of them assume. The only things missing are the fourth Marine and the flag. Marilyn and Darlene are the two closest to the flagpole, raising it; my sister is the soldier at the back, reaching for the pole but not quite touching it. This is ironic because Moira knew more about Dylan than Darlene and Marilyn combined. I’m pretty certain it was Moira who said, “Wait!” twice, the second time with less conviction and volume, as though she was already wondering what she was doing. But all three of them called out the first line of the next verse together, in ragged unison, up to the boy in the blue scarf strumming his guitar onstage.

“That’s right,” Dylan said, sounding surprised and sheepish and genuinely grateful. “Thanks, man.” He resumed singing while the audience applauded and somebody whistled and my sister and her friends sat back down beside me.

I don’t remember anything else about the rest of the concert or that night, not the drive home, not whether I sat in the front or the back or beside Darlene, not whether the three of them discussed what had happened, though they must have. But it happened. They saved Bob Dylan. I know, because I was there.

My niece looks like a miniature sunbather on a deck chair in Miami. Even the slender tube taped to one of her nostrils seems more optional than dire.

We race ahead in time now, calendar pages flipping, to fall 1972. I’m on a bike riding through Queen’s Park, which abuts the campus of the University of Toronto, where I’m in my last undergraduate year. I’m on my way to Women’s College Hospital to visit my new niece, who’s still in an incubator on the obstetrics floor because she was born two months prematurely. I promised Moira I’d drop in to see the baby on the way to her apartment, which she shares with her husband, Brian, and her three-year-old son, my nephew, Sam. Moira herself was discharged a week ago, but she’s been spending every minute she can at the hospital, bringing bottles of breast milk to the ward and apparently driving the nurses crazy. This despite the fact that everybody, from her doctor to my mother, has assured her that the baby is fine and should be able to go home soon. Moira doesn’t believe them.

On the maternity ward, I’m directed to the end of the hall, where the preemies are kept. Through a big picture window, I look down on three tiers of babies in “isolettes”—“not incubators,” I’m informed by Nurse Svenson, who’s serving as my guide. Nurse Svenson is squat and blonde, a compressed Scandinavian with a habit of looking a few millimetres to the side of your face when she speaks to you. She directs my attention to the third isolette in the front row, which has a pink satin bow perched on one end, creating a gift-wrap effect. The name tag on the bow reads “Miriam Elaine Factor.”

“Your niece,” says the nurse.

My niece, Miriam Elaine Factor, is not what I expected. She’s stretched out languidly on her back wearing nothing but a tiny diaper and a pair of white cotton circles over her eyes, presumably to protect them from the tropical isolette light. She looks like a miniature sunbather on a deck chair in Miami. Even the slender tube taped to one of her nostrils seems more optional than dire, like a New Age spa treatment. The only jarring note is the rhythmic, violent collapsing of her rib cage, as regular as a metronome set on high.

“It’s called grunting,” Nurse Svenson says beside me. “Her lungs still aren’t fully formed, so she has to work hard at breathing. That’s why she needs the oxygen. It’s lucky she’s a girl. Girl preemies fight. Boys tend to give up.”

I’m new to the world of babies, but Nurse Svenson’s comment seems less than professional. For the moment, though, I’m too preoccupied with my niece’s breathing to dwell on it. I keep my eyes trained on her solar plexus being sucked rapidly in and out; I’m thinking it has to be hurting her, but at the same time I’m willing her to keep hurting herself.

“Are you all right?” Nurse Svenson says.

“I’m fine,” I say without looking away from my niece. “Why?”

“Men,” she says. At some point, I’m aware that she’s drifted away, but I stay just to make sure the grunting process continues. It does, regular and percussive. After what feels like a very long time, which in reality is probably ten minutes, I manage to make myself leave.

Back on my bike, I cut over to Bay Street, ride down to Dundas, then turn east and use side streets to get to my sister’s apartment. My route takes me along Shuter, past Massey Hall. For the past decade or so, there’s been talk of restoring the venue to its original grandeur, but the facade still looks as neglected as it did the night I saw Dylan with Moira and her friends. Moira’s apartment, a Victorian walk-up, is five minutes more to the east, on a street that’s as Toronto-treed as any, idyllic as long you’re careful which piles of curbside leaves you decide to park your car on. Drunks have been known to take naps in them.
Illustration of record players and Bob Dylan albums.

The ground-floor door is open, and when I go through it, Moira is already standing on the landing at the top of the stairs.

“Is she not beautiful?” she says.

I agree, and we go into the apartment. Brian has taken Sam to McDonald’s for dinner, she tells me. She wants to know the latest about her daughter, all the details, even about Nurse Svenson.

“Did she tell you girl preemies are fighters and boys give up?”

“Uh-huh.”

“She says the only thing we need to worry about now is her being left handed because of birth trauma. I’m sure she says exactly the same thing to the parents of boys, only with the genders switched. How can she not be fired?”

We laugh a little about that. Moira seems to be glowing in a way I don’t remember her ever being before, even when Sam was born. She can’t seem to sit still. She serves me some -herbal tea in a Mason jar, which I make fun of and which Moira says reminds her of our Aunt Charlotte, who always kept more pop in her house than any adult in our extended family, but who refused to take it out at dinner. We used to have to hunt for soda at family Seders, as though it were one more hidden piece of matzo.

“The good old days.” Moira shimmies a bit in her chair.

I try to think of something to ground her. “Speaking of the old days,” I say, “I rode past Massey Hall on the way over here. It reminded me of that night you and Darlene and Marilyn took me to see Dylan. You know, when he forgot the words to that song?”

She squints. “Excuse me?”

“I was fourteen, so it must have been 1964. Yeah, ’64.” I describe the scene in more detail, how the three of them stood up and called out the lyrics. She registers no recognition. “Come on,” I say. “Mum and Dad were in New York, you know, reliving their beatnik youth.”

Moira just looks at me. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Dylan!” I say.

She shakes her head. “It makes no sense. Why would I have gone with Darlene and Marilyn of all people? They hated each other. And why would we have taken you?”

“Probably because of Darlene. I think she had a thing for me.” I tell her about the laundry-room incident, when Darlene kissed me. “Tongue included, I might add.”

“You’re crazy,” she says. “Darlene didn’t screw fourteen-year-olds.”

I’m actually scandalized. “Who said anything about screwing? It was a French kiss.”

“Same thing, for Darlene. I used to ask her if she’d slept with her latest new boyfriend, and she’d say, ‘I don’t know. Maybe.’ She wasn’t lying either.”

“What, she was stoned?”

My sister looks at me pityingly. “Yeah.”

“No wonder she always looked so blurry. Moira, you’re saying you honestly don’t remember that night?”

“None of it. Not the night, not the concert, nothing.”

“So you don’t remember Mummy and Dad being out of town.”

“Vaguely. But not the rest of it. You must be having a waking dream. Or maybe a seizure.” The diagnosis seems to please her. Suddenly she flings her hand up. “I almost forgot!” She jumps up and heads for the kitchen.

“The concert, right?” I call.

“Not the concert.” She comes back out with a paper bag. “Here.” She hands it to me. Glass clinks in the bag, which is surprisingly heavy and warm. Taped to the bag is a note printed in heavy magic marker: “For Baby Miriam Elaine Factor.”

“It’s breast milk,” she says. “Four bottles. You have to drop them off at the hospital for me. Brian has the car, and the baby needs the first one an hour from now.” She hits her forehead with her palm twice. “I can’t believe I forgot to give them to Brian.”

I look down at the bag. It’s very warm.

“What?” she says impatiently.

“You know the expression ‘It’s like kissing your sister’?”

“No.”

“This is worse.”

She doesn’t laugh. “Go now. Seriously, she needs it. No stops on the way.”

But I do stop, briefly, before she can close the door. “You really don’t remember the Dylan concert?”

“Mark,” she says. “I don’t remember anything. Go.”

Miriam Elaine Factor died two nights later, on November 3, 1972, just before midnight. The cause of death, according to the doctors, was bronchopulmonary dysplasia, scarring of the lungs, most likely the result of oxygen therapy. The thing that had saved her, it turned out, was the thing that ended up killing her. No one got the chance to find out if Miriam Elaine was left handed, though Moira thought she was. She held her daughter for three hours after she died, and she was pretty sure of it. The baby got cold, Moira said, but slowly. The first time she kissed her forehead, it was warm. Then cool. Then, later, cold.

“It was very interesting,” Moira said. “I was actually interested.” She said this at the shiva, sitting on a low chair beside me, in a soft voice, just loud enough for me and my mother to hear. My mother, who had her arm around Moira and one hand on her cheek, had been trying for a while to get her to go upstairs to lie down. This my sister didn’t seem so interested in.

“I’m good with boy babies, Mummy,” she said. “Maybe not so much with girls.”

“Sweetheart, don’t,” my mother said.

“I wonder where Nurse Svenson lives,” I said.

Moira closed her eyes and produced a sound, one low awful note, that I had never heard come out of a human being before in my life.

“Me too,” she whispered.

Darlene was at the funeral. It was a detail I actually forgot until Moira reminded me of it. This was some six months later, in the lobby of a downtown movie theatre. We’d just come out of a matinée showing of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory along with Brian and Sam, whose birthday we were celebrating. It was the first movie Moira had been to since the baby died and, as far as I knew, one of the few times she’d been out of her apartment. All through the afternoon, I’d had the feeling that I was with a stranger who was doing a poor imitation of my sister. Her voice was too loud, and her opinions about the film were more shrill than funny.

In the lobby, Brian took Sam to the bathroom, possibly to escape. As soon as they were gone, Moira went past me as though I were invisible and walked to the railing that looked down on the two-storey atrium. For a moment, I knew, I was sure, that she was going to jump. Instead, she waited till I ran up beside her, her hands still on the railing.

“It’s okay,” she said. “You can stop worrying about me now, Mark.”

“Are you sure?”

“I have to be. I think Brian’s starting to hate me. Sam too, maybe. I need to figure out a different way of looking at what happened. Like in black and white, maybe, instead of colour. So I’m starting to think of details. Things I might have missed. You think you could help me with that?”

Her hands were still on the railing. “Sure. What kind of details?”

“Darlene being at the funeral, that kind of detail,” she said. “Did you know she was there?”

I forced myself to think back. “I only remember seeing her at the chapel, not the cemetery.”

“Darlene doesn’t go into cemeteries. She’s a kohen.”
She was referring to the Jewish priestly caste, male descendants of which were forbidden to enter graveyards, where their holiness might be rendered impure by all the resident dead bodies. “How can she be a kohen?” I said. “She’s a girl.”

“She’s Darlene. She decided she could. She was at the shiva too.” She reached into her pocket, took out a pack of cigarettes, and selected one. I hadn’t seen her smoke since high school. “I’m surprised she didn’t come on to you considering your huge animal magnetism.”

The stranger started to recede a bit. “Okay,” I said.

“You should call her up,” she said. “You could ask her about the Dylan concert we didn’t go to. Prove to me you’re not losing your mind.”

“I’m not going to call Darlene Burke up.”

“Why not?” Moira said. “She could be your witness. You know what you’re doing with the concert thing, don’t you? What you always do. You’re trying to fix things.” She put one hand back on the railing.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I actually did, but there was zero chance I was going to contradict her.

“I liked arguing with you about it. You remember?”

“Uh-huh.”

“I like remembering that night.”

“Me too.”

“You should still call Darlene up, though,” she said. “I bet she’s screwing twenty-two-year-olds these days.”

That was when I thought she might be all right.

“Why would I have helped Dylan? He just forgot some words, according to you. I thought I was going to die.”

I never did call Darlene Burke up, for reasons carnal or otherwise. But I did, over the course of the next couple of decades, make sporadic efforts to research the details of that night at Massey Hall in 1964. And I kept Moira updated on my progress. It became a thing with us. I told myself that was why I kept at the research, no matter how fitfully — to keep something going that she seemed to enjoy. But I also knew I was doing it because I owed it to her, to atone for my part in the death of Miriam Elaine Factor.

This was the 1970s; the state of the art for investigating recent history was still microfilm. I had started writing the odd story for the Varsity, the University of Toronto’s newspaper, which meant I was already familiar with the nauseous pleasures of twirling a knob and watching a month’s worth of history streak past on a grainy screen. So my initial strategy, a few weeks after that day at the movies, was to descend into the library stacks, find the newspaper spools for November 1964, and read the write-ups of the Dylan concert. Toronto had three major daily papers at the time, all of which had reviewed the event. But the pieces were disappointingly brief, and none included any mention of Dylan being saved by three teenage girls, a piece of local colour I assumed would have been irresistible. The only thing approaching colour was a note in the Toronto Star, which said the concert was “almost like a peace rally, [including] pacifists, socialists, beats and Dylanites.”

“Well, that proves we weren’t there,” Moira said when I read her the quote. “We were never any of those things. We were just seventeen.”

But I was on a mission.

In the spring of 1979 about the time my sister and Brian were going through their first trial separation, I found, in an issue of the Star Weekly, an interview with Dylan following not the ’64 concert but the far more famous ’65 Massey Hall show. This was the tour in which he played the first half solo and acoustic and the second with a Toronto-based rock band called Levon and the Hawks, with everyone, musicians and audience, electrified. The article, by a writer named Margaret Steen, was personal and polite, a Canadian version of New Journalism. Every quote she had elicited from Dylan made him sound exactly like the Dylan I had watched forget the words in 1964. “A lot of people don’t dig it,” he said, at one point, about his new sound, “or say they don’t dig it, or tell people not to dig it. It don’t matter.” Add the word man after “It don’t matter” and he was in Massey Hall with the four of us. It was obvious. How could I have imprinted so clearly that precise amalgam of hesitation and archness, that cool discomfort, if I hadn’t been there? And, if I had been there, how could what I had seen happen not have happened?

My sister was less than convinced. “Fixing, fixing. It’s like with Brian and me. Doesn’t all the fixing ever tire you out?”

“I’m not trying to fix you and Brian,” I said.

“Please. You’re always telling me what a great guy he is.”

“It’s just my opinion.”

“You need to stop this, Mark.”

“Fine. I’m sorry. But, whatever it is you think I’m doing, I’m not.”

“You are. You’re always trying to make something into something it isn’t. You try to revise everything.”

“Tell me exactly how.”

She glanced at the ceiling and closed her eyes. “Okay, listen. You’re what, fourteen, and you hear me and my friends talking about Dylan and this concert coming up that we all want to go to. Then you have a dream—maybe the same one where you make out with Darlene—and in the dream we’re at the concert, and you’re with us, and something extremely cool happens involving us. And then, a couple of years later, you decide that your dream actually happened, because Mark’s version of the concert is so much better than the actual regular boring concert probably was. So you make it better. You fix it.”

She was 100 percent right. About the reflex, at least. But not the motive. “I don’t do that,” I said.

“You do.”

“Give me an example.”

“Big Yellow Taxi.”

Recently, maybe because he was anxious about what was happening with his parents, my nephew, Sam, had become obsessed with everything his mother and Brian had done when they were his age. He particularly wanted to know what kind of music they had listened to. Brian had dug up a Pete Seeger children’s album that he had listened to when he was ten, like Sam. Moira finessed about a decade ahead and pulled out a bunch of her records from the late ’60s and early ’70s to play, one of which was Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of the Canyon, which included “Big Yellow Taxi.” When she played the album for Sam, he couldn’t listen to that song enough. Neither could I, but for a different reason.

“This must be a cover,” I said. “The chorus is wrong.”

“What are you talking about?” said Moira.

“That’s not how the chorus goes. This is how it goes.” I recited it for her. “The rhyme’s better, the word order’s smarter. Joni Mitchell’s a genius; she wouldn’t settle for that second-rate version.”

“Mark, you just heard her sing it. It’s the chorus.”

The chorus Moira was referring to, the one on the album, went like this:

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.

My version:

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know till it’s gone
What you’ve got
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.

I rest my case.

In 1989, I turned thirty-nine and bought my first computer, an AT&T 6300 with a twenty-megabyte hard drive. This meant that, at the library, I now knew enough to use the digital network that was quickly replacing microfiche. It was on such a network that I found a photograph of Bob Dylan walking on a street at night, in Philadelphia, in 1964. It was almost certainly just before the Toronto concert, but Dylan, who was wearing a Mad Hatter top hat, looked more like a geeky high school freshman trying to impersonate the Artful Dodger than the Dylan I remembered onstage. I didn’t even think of showing it to my sister.

In 1999, I turned forty-nine, Massey Hall turned 105, and Google filed one of its first patents. Browsing the nascent World Wide Web, I stumbled on a piece of pure research gold: a link leading to a jerky black-and-white episode of a cbc program called Quest, which had aired in 1964. The episode featured a twenty-two-year-old Dylan playing his songs in what appeared to be a lumberjack bunkhouse, with half a dozen “lumberjacks” going about their business as he sang, smoking, playing cards, darning socks, pretty much oblivious to the wunderkind serenading them with protest songs. Appearance-wise, Dylan was once again a revelation: he looked totally young and clean-cut. Where was the electric afro I remembered? Where was the humble disdain? Checking an online discography, I realized where: half on the cover of his 1965 album, Highway 61 Revisited, and half on the cover of Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, from 1967. Doubt crept onstage; I chose to ignore it.

Nineteen ninety-nine was also the year my sister’s divorce finally became final. She and Brian hadn’t lived together for more than a decade—Brian had a new partner and two new children by this point—but they had agreed to stay legally married until Sam turned twenty. When that deadline passed, they revised their divorce date to Sam’s thirtieth birthday. To mark the occasion, Moira decided to sell her house. This involved emptying her basement of three decades’ worth of accumulated stuff. I volunteered to help—a process, I quickly realized, that entailed watching my sister pull items out of a succession of drawers and crates, croon at them, and say, “I don’t know if I can bear to part with this.”

The second day I helped her, the Sunday of the May long weekend, we were working on a cordon of boxes that was barricading an elliptical trainer. The first box she opened turned out to be full of record albums. She extracted a handful and fanned them out with something like wonder.

“Look at this. I didn’t even know I still had these. Jesus. Bobby Dylan. Bobby Dylan. Did he ever make it, anyway?”

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

She just leafed through more albums, half smiling to herself.

“Don’t say it,” I said.

“I don’t know if I can bear to part with these.” She kept leafing. “I do remember the concert, you know. Massey Hall, I mean. I remember going, anyway, just not any details. I was a bit preoccupied that night. That was the day I found out I was pregnant.”

Her voice was so completely conversational that, for a second, I thought she was just momentarily confused; I was about to point out that Sam hadn’t been born till six years after that night. Then I realized what she was saying.

She went on in the same tone. “That’s why Darlene and Marilyn came with me even though they couldn’t stand each other. They were the only two people I had told. They were my moral support. Then Mummy came back from New York on the weekend and I told her too. She made some phone calls and took me to an appointment, and a week later, I had an abortion.”

She could have been talking about a sweet sixteen. A bat mitzvah. “You’re making this up, right?”

She shook her head. “Cross my heart.”

I tried to think of something to say. “Who was the father?”

“No one you knew. It figured, though. Darlene went out with so many guys she couldn’t remember who she slept with. I slept with one and got pregnant.”

“Moira,” I said.

“It was a girl. The fetus. I asked.” She looked up at me, suddenly alert. “You can’t tell Brian.”

“Okay.”

“No, I mean it. You can’t tell him, Mark.”

“Okay.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before. But I couldn’t remember anything about the concert, anyway,” she said. “All I could think about that night was what I was going to do. Why would I have stood up to help Dylan? He just forgot some words, according to you. I thought I was going to die.” She finished putting the albums back in the box and smoothed her hands across the lid. “Brian wanted to have another baby. But I couldn’t risk having another girl. And I couldn’t tell him why. It seemed obvious to me.” She held the box of records out. “I think I’m ready to part with these now.”

“It was my fault,” I said. “Miriam was my fault.”

“Don’t.”

“It’s true. When I delivered your milk that night, I didn’t give it to Nurse Svenson. I didn’t give it to anyone. There was no one at the nurse’s station, and I had a paper due the next day, so I just left it on the counter with your note. I should have waited till someone was there. And I should have gone to see Miriam again. I might have noticed something was wrong.”

She closed her eyes briefly, her head tilted slightly to the side. Then she looked back up at me. “It wasn’t the milk, Mark. She got the milk. She didn’t need any help in dying. She did that all by herself.” She seemed very young, suddenly, unbearably like her teenage self. Possibly because she was crying. “Mark, please. I remember going to the concert. But I don’t remember saving anybody. And I don’t remember you.”

But I was there, and I know what I remember. I remember my sister and her friends rising as one, drawn into the light like a trio of moths. I remember them bisected by the spotlight and the shadow they cast on the plain wooden stage just in front of Dylan’s feet. I remember them calling the words out to him, the ones he’d forgotten, so that he could finish singing about Hattie Carroll and go on to inhabit half a dozen incarnations of himself, turning electric, scandalizing the world. And, through it all, my sister would stay frozen in my mind, in a concert hall, her hand raised as if to forestall the future. There is the reflex, and there is the motive. Maybe we don’t rearrange the past to fix it but to fix it in time. To stop time. Because we know how the story ends.

The last chorus of “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” incidentally, goes:

Oh but you who philosophize disgrace
and criticize all fears,
bury the rag deep in your face,
for now’s the time for your tears.

No one could fix that.

Jay Teitel
Alex MacAskill
Alex MacAskill is a Halifax-based printmaker, graphic designer, and illustrator.

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