Marika Deliyannides' Bitter Lake

by Shaun Hunter

Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers

Two women, two girls and a baby carriage, in Calgary circa 1910. (Photo:  U of A Peel's Prairie Provinces )

Two women, two girls and a baby carriage, in Calgary circa 1910. (Photo: U of A Peel's Prairie Provinces)

The day of Zoe’s pregnancy ultrasound, a chinook wind is blowing. She senses the barometric change: she’s more anxious than usual, feels the onset of a migraine. Her pregnancy is unexpected. A professional closet designer, Zoe has curated a careful life for herself and her husband, Calvin in Calgary – one that does not include children. In her well-appointed inner city home, she has stowed away the messy memories of her own childhood. But in booming Calgary, it is hard to avoid other people’s children. The city teems with toddlers. “You couldn’t enter a restaurant these days without tripping over a row of high chairs.” As Zoe lies on the clinic examining table, the chinook does nothing to melt her resistance to the prospect of motherhood.


Calvin arrived in time to watch the sonographer push the ultrasound wand across the cool gel that coated my bare belly. He stood at the head of the examination table, his arms folded across his chest while he rocked back and forth on his heels. So far I’d felt nothing. No quickening, no nausea. If I could ignore what was going on in my body I wouldn’t have to deal with the apprehension of childbirth that bobbed to the surface every time I passed a pregnant woman. There were expectant women everywhere, it seemed. Calgary was in the middle of a maternity boom. Women were being sent to hospitals in High River and Okotoks to deliver. The health care system was bulging under the weight of so many babies.


Marika Deliyannides, Bitter Lake (Porcupine’s Quill, 2014)