In her memoir, Dear Current Occupant (BookThug, 2018), Chelene Knight observes that she writes to “fill the cracks” (123). Indeed, her story exists in the cracks themselves, those indefinable spaces between memories: the silences, the dreams, the longings, the fears. Knight’s work is a collage of fragments, but most of all, it is a collage of the silences that weave those fragments of her East Vancouver childhood together.
Referencing the Japanese practice of kintsugi, a technique that “transforms broken ceramic or china vessels into beautiful works of art and to their new life” (123), Knight shows us that these silences – these cracks – are veins of gold.
Gold threads its way through my family histories, too. But in my case, that gold is literal. One great grandfather was a spokesperson for a gold mining company. Another was a celebrated goldsmith. My grandmother loved gold: for her seventy-fifth birthday, her children banded together to get her a gold watch, and later, after she died, my mother inherited a gold bangle that always snaked around her wrist. My mother passed that bracelet on to me, and every time I wear it, I think of the legacy of gold that unites us across generations. I, too, have passed on gold: when my cousin’s daughter was christened, I gave her a pair of gold earrings, tiny hoops to welcome her to the family.
But Knight’s cracks filled with gold make me think, too, of the fragments, the silences, and the longings that are so central to my story as well. I have dug deeply to tell this story; it’s been one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever undertaken. And like Chelene Knight, I have learned that the cracks themselves – those silent, dark spaces that I couldn’t fill with any archival insight – have been moments of grace. In those spaces, I have speculated, wondered, dreamed, hoped, desired, wept, and laughed. They are the glue that holds the whole story together.
(c) Sonja Boon, 2019