by Alexina Dalgetty

Buried deep in a Value Village rack I see a well-knit, well worn, sweater. Its pink is the pink of the fish called salmon, named red but pink in the tin, its bones curled into the harvested sea flesh. I know a man who reads the cans with questioning curiosity, balancing risk with desire, eating only arctic salmon, inexperienced with google search he doesn’t know they’re polluted too. I understand the old sweater rib welt, stocking stitch body, buttons like stars, like a row of fish bones waiting to be crushed by my fork or picked out by his fussiness. The yarn is soft with a thin crackle of storm warning sparks but not nylon, polyester, or any other kind of artificial; it is all ancient animal sheep or rabbit or exotic yak. Emu. My child’s hand grasped tight by Gran’s stiff wizened fingers, a shop with bookcases made into cubes, each cube stuffed full of colour. I like this salmon pink, Gran says. A girl in red sweater with starfish buttons smiles at me from a picture on a pattern, and just above her hair a ball of yarn with knitting needles artfully inserted as if legs. An emu not an emu. This Value Village sweater has history enough to swallow me whole. The world twists and I stand aging and graceless, my hand unable to untouch the salmon-coloured sweater. Upstream.


Alexina Dalgetty lives and writes in Camrose, Alberta.  Alexina’s debut novel The Cleaning Woman’s Daughter (2023) is published by Liquorice Fish Books, an imprint of Cinnamon Press.


Published by