Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Wonder

 Taylor Beach, 
Metchosin, BC
Gillian Cornwall, March 30, 2013.

The wonder and greatness of all that is, all that can be imagined and all that is beyond imagination flows through me. I find wonder in all things and beauty in the most simple. I am in awe. Life and love abound. In the giving of love, I am made full. 

Nothing is held within so there is no loss. Life is eternal in the light of freedom. What shall I choose next on my path? Each footfall is a fresh breath and a re-connection to the ever-changing universe. 

I am engaged in that which we call chaos, that which is simply beyond the obviously understood. I am autonomous yet completely connected for what is external is internal, each cell a microcosm of the greatness of everything. 

There is peace here amid the knock and grind of the human engine. I purr with life.  

-Gillian Cornwall,  Revised c. March 31, 2103

Taylor Beach, 
Metchosin, BC
Gillian Cornwall, March 30, 2013.

Olympic Range,
Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, March 30, 2013.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


This story is tough. It's a hard one to read. It covers issues of gender, sexual orientation and abuse. I've thought about it for quite some time, whether I should publish it here or not, but I want people to know they can speak their truths, that there is no one explanation, no single story that covers why we are who we are or how we grow and change. We are singular in our experience with threads of commonality throughout. 

I think there are issues that are rarely addressed in this piece and I honestly hope that it increases awareness for people, that there are no boxes to put people in, there are only many endless paths of life and I am so blessed to be experiencing mine, with love to each of you.


1982. I was perched uncomfortably on the edge of the sofa in the formal sitting room of my first long term relationship with a woman. 

"You are frigid!" she said to me. 

"Frigid?" I thought. How could I be frigid when I wasn't even in my body during the whole sexual exploit.

I knew nothing of sex except that which had been taken from me and this did not feel much different. It was a lot of: "I'll do this and you do that and we'll all pretend we're enjoying it because, if you don't, it means there is something wrong with you, that you're 'queer' (aka different)" ...but what if another 'queer' person is telling me this? So now I've heard I'm queer from straight people and that I'm not queer from gay people, so I guess that means I'm nothing and I guess that's true because whenever anyone touches me, I am not here." Complications.

I'd learned to leave and I didn't know anything but leaving because it was the only way to survive the pain. I never wanted to come back to that 'body-house'. I'd anger her more as I watched her frustration turn to drunken rage. She yelled and yelled into my empty shell as I floated out in the ether, tethered to my battered body like a balloon to a corpse. 

When she gave up to get drunk and seek solace elsewhere, I'd creep back under my skin to occupy my cold and empty house. I'd beg for sleep, face down with the covers over my head and tucked under my pillow, a shroud for comfort and peace and warmth and belief, the belief that I was good and whole and clean and warm.

It took five years of counselling to figure out what had happened to me in the first place, another five to begin the healing process, another couple to realize I was good and that I deserved to be loved - that pleasure was not compliance with the history of sexual theft and violence. 

When I was little, it became a nightmare. I told 'them' that Penguin from Batman and Robin would descend from the attic hatch in my closet where he'd taunt me with his umbrella and cigar - not Freudian at all! It was easier to call for help with this nightmare as the reason than it was to call for help because of the real reason, the gripping fear that the males would come and take more, take that which was not theirs, my innocence the prize of their conquest.

I learned to leave my body back then, to depart through the bedroom window, to fly above the small town that held me captive. When it was safe to return, I'd call a spirit council of the women protectors in my life, those from camp and school and summer resorts, to stand sentinel by my bed where they would tell me stories of a future where I was good and whole and loved. I wish they knew how they saved me, how they made me breathe again when I quite literally stopped as the weight of the thieves squeezed the life from my small body with their assaults. 

I grew and left home, well, home left me more or less. I was eighteen and free but for the chains of the past. I met her and loved her and she told me I was broken, frigid. I thought being gay would have been better, that the abuse would end. It did not end here. Others seemed to see a stamp upon me that allowed them to treat me as 'less than' and, in fact, I found I was unkind and abusive in my relationships too. It was all I knew. 

I am grateful to have had the doctor that directed me to counselling so early in my adult years, grateful for the women who led me along my path of recovery, for the patience of friends and lovers and for my own dire need to be well and to heal that child inside me. I can see the scars. They ache still. There is no erasure. There is only understanding, healing and some peace. All of the events of our lives make us who we are, they inform our decisions and behaviours but they do not always make or break us. I hope this story is a good story. It is true from my heart and I am proud to have learned and survived. I am well. I am grateful for every day of my life. I am able to love and be loved well. I wish no less than this for everyone. 

I wish to be clear that my sexual orientation is not a result of the abuse. I grew up knowing I was different.  

Each of us walks a path as convoluted and complicated as the flow of the rivers and the blood within our veins. Be at peace with one another. Be well. Seek joy and love through kindness and giving. 

Thank you for reading this. 

-Gillian Cornwall,  February 26, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Mount Douglas Park
Gillian Cornwall, c. March 2011

I wrote this short piece of poetic prose in the spring of 2011 upon wishing I had the luxury of a new love for spring. As a writer, one can create what one wishes to live, at least through the wonder of fiction. This is why I have titled this piece:


Come. Walk with me, hand in hand, through the rainforest on this soggy April day. Let's set aside the push and rush and take to the woods to breathe in the scent of living cedar and watch the crystal gems of God's tears drop from the needles of the fragrant pines.

Let us feel the spongy earth beneath our feet, the bounce of a million roots woven below us, our safety net from the depths, where the silent creatures crawl blindly through the dirt in their bastions of peace. Let's sit under the cedars where we cannot hear the sounds of man, where the bird song is the loudest call and there is no twitter, no tweet, text nor message of man.

Let us sit together in this harmony and remember a peaceful time in our hearts. Let me push the stray hair from your face and kiss your cherry blossom mouth. Let us go back to the mother today, to wander through the woods that lead to the shores of the Pacific, the watery womb of life, my love, my truth, my beauty.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. April 2011.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Springtime in Victoria

The Cherry Blossoms
Victoria, 2010.
Gillian Cornwall

Blue and green and pretty pinks
after the rains and winds
my city sighs

The first tourist
from boat to bus
as we rise
from our long winter's nap.

-Gillian Cornwall, March 2013.

Friday, March 01, 2013

I Want To Write You

Plum Blossoms, Victoria.
Gillian Cornwall, 2010.

I have selected a love poem, written almost 20 years ago, to engage your senses as you head into the weekend. I am writing to you today as I will not be available at my regular Sunday posting time. May you all have a beautiful weekend as we head into spring on the Canadian west coast, as each blossom opens itself to you.

I want to engage your senses
Want you to peel my poem from its paper
Smell me in the words
Taste me in the rhythm
Let each letter I loosen 
Probe your private ear - hot and vital

I want to write you a 'wonder pillow'
On which to rest your weary head
A poultice pillow to draw out history's poison
A pillow of words to offer comfort 
And protection through the night

I want to write you a hardhat and toolbox
Solid words to deflect the pain of everyday life
And a mighty saw to cut through the prison bars of the past

I want to write you a candlelit bath
Tranquility and ritual
A clean safe place to be

I want to write you a holiday
Where, in the midst of the turmoil
There lies a middle ground
Where wildflowers gently sway
As the wind whispers a song 
Of the secrets of the universe
Where every moment is yours

-Gillian Cornwall, July 6, 1993.

The Olympic Range at Sunset
Gillian Cornwall, 2011.