Writer in Residence

show and tell – a catalogue of the small animals that live in my house

By Trynne Delaney

**This is the result of an exercise I did this week. The exercise was to find objects around the house and write about them. It's a good one for when my brain is moving slow, which it has been. In looking for objects to write about I noticed that I have a lot of figurines of animals around my apartment that were gifted to me by friends and family.



My mother arrives. We carry the boxes up the stairs. There is so much inside them that I don’t remember. She’s offering me the past and I’m not sure I want it. My head heats up. We close the door, we unpack. 

As if from a hat, she pulls out a rabbit. I don’t remember where it and its younger sibling sat in any of our homes. Its eyes are frozen closed in cracked porcelain. Greens of a grass that it might have sat on if it wasn’t sculpture are reflected on its fur. It’s what she always called me and S: rabbit.

When she leaves to drive home I place the rabbit in the windowside forest. A visitor could only find it if they knew to look for it. Or, if I showed them. 



Pandemic xmas year two, I went over to my father’s and spent an hour of masked time with family. I brought gifts for my two youngest siblings. My little sister got a look on her face when she unwrapped her present and said thank you. A tiny tension in her brow I recognized as realization, she got up and walked away. When she returned it was with a white hard-plastic horse with a pink-peach-sparkle-highlighted mane and tail. She handed it to me and said “this is for you.”

It’s been on top of my fridge ever since. It watched over us until it fell twice in the last month. Three of its legs are now broken off. When I have a chance I’ll re-glue them on.



I have no memory of where it came from, maybe the house we lived in that bordered on a marshy river. Whatever type of stone it’s made of is soft and cool. This little dragonfly’s quiet life so far has taken place mostly in a box.



A gift from someone who doesn’t believe in me. 

Silk, grey, perfect. It’s been with me since childhood. The little elephant is smaller than an orange. It’s the type of gift that was brought in a suitcase to make up for the not knowing that comes with absence. Its tail is tied in a perfect bellybutton knot, its front legs are bowed, tiny beaded eyes glint bright, its trunk raised in recognition. Who’s that it saw in the distance? A friend?



I know it was always around because my affection for it is like affection for my dolls, although I never felt as close to the hard plastic toys. This one is an exception. I never hugged him but I know I held him in my much smaller, softer palm, his little freckled face staring up at me. His sides are splotched brown and fading with age. 

He has a head and tail that can be raised or lowered but unlike a live dog, he looks cheerful either way. This dog exited the playmobil extended universe and ended up buried beneath some yar in a basket I’d long forgotten as well. I placed him on the dresser, then close to the elephant. They’re best friends. 


Yellow Brontosaurus

I used to have a red t-rex too if I’m not wrong. 

Summer 2018 on the edge of the fleuve we were falling in love. One of the parents of the kids who attended our program could tell by the way we walked together to the metro. I thought we were so slick, and soon after I thought we were over. I kept the dinosaur in both rooms I inhabited in Calgary where eventually you came to visit. 



Holding onto this one for S but don’t know if they’ll ever want it back. Last year of high school they formed this cow head out of clay. Its brains spill out the back of its head and its eyes are bloodshot and bulging. I think it’s amazing. S probably thinks it’s trash. I’ll keep it forever.



L sent us a picture of it from the Renaissance aisle. 

Before she moved back home to Ottawa she brought it with her in her bag – she said she had to get it for us – she passed it from her tote and I placed it in mine. It looks nothing and completely like our cat, Tamarind. It’s made of a light wood with a painted face and body that looks like it was screenshotted from the brain of someone who’d only ever imagined a cat. It watches us from above while we sleep. I know I’m safe and loved. 



I don’t remember why or when, but my grandfather gave me a whole bag of these tiny black clay turtles. The one I have now is the lone survivor. Every time I touch it I’m positive it will be warm. I know it holds life. I know it holds his complaint that everything is too fast these days. 

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Trynne Delaney is a writer currently based in Tiohtià:ke (Montréal). They are the author of the half-drowned (winner of the QWF First Book Prize) and A House Unsettled. In their spare time they like to garden.