• Rob Riel


My Name


is borrowed from a saint. A saint is
someone who is holy for what he or
she has not done. Saints never smoke,
or drink. They are not enraptured by
music for the sake of the melody,
or a good book for the sake of its
words. Saints have bodies, but they
never use their bodies for love. They
know quite well what it means to
be human, and resist. Sainthood
requires more than not sinning, not
gossiping, not stealing, not being
angry. Sainthood requires rejection
of beauty and ugliness. Saints are
people who manage to die before
they know what they are missing.



He wanted a parrot, not a pigeon. But pigeons were cheap,
and no one would notice if one went missing. So he shuffled
down to Spotlight and bought a box of those acrylic paints
in fat little tubes that kids and senior citizens use for craft
projects. He did the wings red and green. Too Christmassy,
he thought, so he coloured the chest orange and black, the
back blue, the belly burgundy. He painted the tailfeathers in
handsome alternating stripes of maroon and gold. The solvent
in the paint snapped the rubber bands he’d used to hold the
wings in place, but by that time the several coats had hardened
quite satisfactorily. Still, he wasn’t happy. He couldn’t cover
up that yellow-and-black eye. Too round, always darting
back and forth, quivering. It frightened him when he noticed
it, and he dropped the whole thing. The sound it made
when it hit the floor was like a foot stepping on thin plastic.