Heather Simeney MacLeod’s first book of poems, My Flesh the Sound of Rain, was published in 1998 by Coteau Books; a chapbook, Shapes of Orion, was published in 2000 by Smoking Lung Press, and her second full-length poetry book, The Burden of Snow, with Turnstone Books was released in 2004. Heather’s poetry has appeared in most major Canadian literary journals as well as appearing in journals and reviews in the United Kingdom, Israel, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Her plays have received honourable mentions from magazines and contests, and been performed at the Victoria Fringe Festival, the Belfrey, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She has lived throughout western and northern Canada, received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Victoria, her Masters from the University of Edinburgh and is currently enrolled in the PhD program at the University of Alberta.
I’m a bag girl. I really, really, really mean it. I am a bag girl. I love bags. I love wee purses, wallets, change purses, granny bags, over-the-shoulder bags, backpacks, leather bags, fabric bags, small zipper bags, big bags for groceries, canvas bags, and soft cotton bags. Yet, I am still on the look out for the perfect bag. I endlessly scan other people’s bags believing for a flash, “Got to have that,” for that one, “that bag, there, looks perfect.” I’ve no idea what I think the perfect bag ought to encompass or contain. Maybe I’m hoping I’ll find something in it. You know, some secret pocket that will reveal some intangible knowledge about the world and the way to navigate through it.
I also like to snoop through other people’s bags. I especially like to root around in wallets; there is so much to discover. The way we reveal ourselves to one another is, often, rather constructed. However, stumbling over a bent and faded photograph or a slip of worn paper from a fortune cookie is quite telling. I think, you can tell a lot about a person by the kind of bag they’re toting about. Not unlike recognizing various aspects about a person based upon their footwear. You know, honestly, can I really (really) be friends with that girl who has got a narrow clutch bag where she can fit only necessities within? I think, possibly quite incorrectly, that women who carry bags about like Russian dolls must have a grand sense of humour. You know? The backpack opens to reveal a purse; the purse in turn opens to reveal a clutch; the clutch bag in turn opens to reveal a wallet. By the time those types of women have paid for their café au lait I’ve got the giggles. Oh! What about the ladies who have the massive bag which gapes open to reveal far too much of themselves? You know, suddenly you’ve glimpsed yoga t-shirts, socks, bus pass is falling on the floor, loose change is rattling about, their cell phone is clattering, their car keys are jingling; it’s as if everything is vying for a sort-of escape.
Lately, I’ve been carrying an over-the-shoulder, soft-green, cotton bag. I especially like it as the lining is camouflage. I’ve had it for a few years, but have just lately been taken with it. It tells me throughout my days, “Blend in, be quiet, everything will be all right.” I also love my Mulberry bag which I lusted after for several months whilst living in Scotland, and then around my birthday (spring time) a few years ago spontaneously bought it. I remember taking the train from London back to Edinburgh and running my hands over the soft leather. It is durable. It tells me every time I look at it, “Not to worry. I can handle anything.” My friend, Eleanor, from Liverpool gave me a floral handbag. I feel like this wee floral handbag greets me with, “I’m only up for biscuits and tea.” My friend, the writer, Rebecca Fredrickson gave me a gorgeous red velvet bag with a silkscreen of a wasp over the front flap. I feel like it says to me, “We’re lovely. You and I? We are lovely,” and sometimes it says, “Do something with your hair.” Katy E. Ellis Jr., an amazing poet from Seattle, gave me this wonderful orange bag (I’ve sewn a patch of the Virgin of Guadalupe on it) and I swear, swear, this bag says to me, “If we’re not going to have a good time … I don’t think we should go.”
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