ten days after we fucked i
went grocery shopping with my
dad, which doesn’t happen very often.
he bought four bottles
of ketchup because it was on sale
and he still lives in 1962
and every spot in the sky is a
every spot in the sky was a cloud
marked by breath you’d expelled to
every sound that had failed to
there was one bottle left in
the cupboard at home,
but he said that
he never wanted
to buy it again
it was christmas. all the walls came down at my torn toenails, the way his heels still sometimes do. it wasn’t an accident or anything; i chipped at them until they would not stand.
when i got the phone number of my first “love” this weekend, from his mother (that classic boy-next-door, the one our mothers dreamt i would end up with), it all became so clear. if i just called him, i could walk a small town party with him, in my high-heeled shoes (he’s an AUTO-mechanic, say it with me), linking arms and catching up on the fifteen years we lost. i’m sure i could. but i saw everything beyond that fallen concrete when he kissed me, though i forget the kiss. i remember that there were two mouths and flaring nostrils that i could see straight into. i remember that i touched his skin, protruding, an uncanny and disturbing scar. i remember that there were teeth because they bit me. i remember that there was a boy there doing this with me, but i forget his face the way i forgot his number and was reminded (incorrectly – he’s always been a kidder).
there is no chance for me. in the same way that there is no remembering. there are only small town memories, churches and backyards. addresses in covers of trade paperbacks. places to linger. places to look back at and remember the man i have loved from the very first day, a man who never wrote me a farewell card. a man who had not been a man, who had still been the boy next door.
until that boy next door gets married, i don’t stand a chance. even if he disappears without a trace i will always stay this way, making all the same mistakes, choosing all the wrong numbers to remember. somewhere in me i’m sure that it’s on purpose.
because i’d rather drift alone forever never knowing, than know that he was just one call away.
there is a spoon in my house that isn’t really a spoon at all. it isn’t mine; it was just here when i moved in & probably belongs to my roommate.
anyway the spoon is mostly flat. it still functions and everything. i don’t use spoons very often but it will hold my cheerios or my coffee if it has to. it’s slightly awkward but at least it functions. it just isn’t really a spoon.
and it’s christmas now, and it isn’t like last christmas. last year i had an apartment with a boyfriend and a christmas tree and coloured lights in the windows. everyone’s gifts were wrapped weeks ahead of time. we made hot chocolate and bought candy canes and put cards in the christmas tree. i made new friends and plans to spend my holiday with them. i ended up getting sick and spending three days alone on the couch with no one to help me feel better. it was a sign, of course.
this year i bought half my gifts at gas stations on my way back to hamilton. i didn’t take any time off. everything is simple. i don’t have any loyalties or promises or responsibilities. i have my neighbour feeding my fish, who are my best friends now. i don’t have any reminders of any of the people who have come and vanished from my life between last christmas and this one. except a slinky on my shelf, because it’s cool. i miss them all the time and try to convince myself at least once a day that i don’t because i can’t, i can’t miss anything because it is giving a part of myself away, because i have tough skin, because that layer of skin is strong but thin. and of course i don’t care. i just eat cheerios and drink beer and wear comfort sweaters and pretend.
so this christmas is christmas, again. and it’s all scattered and fucked up and different, but it’s the way it should be. last year i was too prepared. trying too hard for something i didn’t really want. and so i got sick. and another year over and a new one just begun. and my heart and my head are still exactly where they were last year. and i don’t mind and won’t apologize (to myself).
and it’s like a flat spoon in the drawer.
it shouldn’t work but it does.
merry christmas friends.
i woke up & didn’t know where i was.
i have been here before.
the door should not be here,
it should be there by the window.
(no, two days later, i remember, it was
i found myself again and again
here, in all the perfect moments
but it still ain’t quite right.
the apartment is different, more his.
i think of my own.
i think i remember that towel rack
broken, still on the floor. but that
i knew where i was after all.
i cut the bangs back again. i don’t know how to do anything else. sometimes i try for a few months to let them grow out, to grow up, but there’s no point.
and everytime i cut them again i think of what the hairdresser will say, but i keep the scissors going.
and the first time i cut them, when i dyed my hair purple at the same time he came back to a girl he didn’t recognize, and i remember his face, and looking like a different person, and realizing i was and i was not the person he knew and i decided around then that i’d move to ottawa.
and the first time i cut my hair myself i was in a basement bathroom that belonged to my high school boyfriend, and he was so unimpressed, and i had to keep the scissors going because i couldn’t get it even, and he had to help even though he didn’t want to, but we broke up soon after that and for the next seven years i was always okay to cut it myself.
and the first time my best friend gave me an undercut, and the second-hand store scissor-chopped clumps of hair sailed to the tile of her bathroom, and we never used a towel when she cut it and we dumped it down the bathtub drain and watched it catch and sometimes we’d get busted and her mom would be pissed and we’d fall asleep in the bunk beds at the end of the night and say before we drifted off, “i love you bitch.”
and the first time i broke my phone, living here, off justin’s balcony on january 18th 2008, and i lost all my hamilton numbers and so i went home and sat on the counter underneath flourescent lights, and cut the bangs and dyed my hair blonde.
not that cutting your own hair is ever a big deal, because it’s not.
i went camping a couple weeks ago & it was totally rad. it made me want to do a million things differently because for two tiny days that’s how they were done. i smoked quietly and alone, hidden in the trees. i kept a fire alive long enough to make fun of the guys. i saw a turtle swimming below the surface of the lake, i saw a fish jump out of the water, i paddled a canoe (j-), i swam until i thought i would drown and almost did, sort of. it was a nice almost-drowning though. we took the rain cover off the tent and i unzipped my sleeping bag and was calm and at peace and stared up at so many stars it felt like there was something wrong with the sky (some kind of pox?).
it was perfect.
it made me less lonely and when i came home i wasn’t depressed. i don’t know what happened. i guess it started when i had an out-of-town visit and we all shared the long car ride back home together and i realized (was reminded of) how simple it all actually is. how many people actually give a fuck about me, and care, simply, not because they have to, not because they’re trying to, because they can’t help it, because they don’t think about it or notice it. i haven’t felt at ease like this in a very long time. and then we went camping. and there are moments that i have now, brief ones that are gone before i have a chance to capture them, that i can’t even be bothered to explain. because i don’t fucking have to.
one of my fish pretends to be asleep in the front of the tank, he is only really sleeping when he is at the back with the other side by side facing in opposite directions and it’s a trick like how when i left my bedroom to walk around the block and smoke a cigarette and think about how alone i’d like to be later, much later, impossibly later, and now, but not right now, the pendulum had stopped swinging on the clock, the perfect clock, and i made a note to myself that i would remember it later but now that i’m home it is swinging again because it does that, it starts and stops at will and sometimes i think it is gunther or the things in the room, things i don’t know about because i’ve lost track of my mugs and my towels and things are just things, i don’t know what they are can’t define, there’s too much and i looked over, it’s stopped now, again, it knows, and this is why i forget so easily and miss your hands on my throat and my fingers in yours because this is what happens, i come home and everything is different, i look again and it’s back the way it was, there is no change, we are stable, everything is stability and it breathes and evolves and spawns algae and droplets of water, and yesterday i saw a man kick violently a fish into the canal and later a dead fish and there’s no correlation these things they just happen, and i wish it was march again, not waiting by the door again, he smelled like stale beer and garbage and sweat and that was okay, he was also refreshing, like i am disgusting and silent, and lonely, i feel like i can’t get away with it or with anything or with writing like this when the snow isn’t melting and i can’t get back and i want to like i used to want to open my eyes and i used to ask for things and i used to make bargains and now! now everything has fallen apart, but i have a baseball.
in a frame on my desk
from a forty ounce
bottle of unrealistically bad
beer, you are the only one
(looking into the camera)
and the glass is heavy
her torn tradition built,
rebuilt itself two hours south
of tag-lined borders,
circling shores of lakes
in an alley in toronto in
the sprawling dusk
in each other only, a ship
draw signs in
garbage only, traced
beneath the pulse
of electricity, lift bridges
next to smokestacks,
where we lived and used
to search beyond
the smog across the lake, to
it was a long drive and
to bring us to the
fridge, unplugged and saving
dinner, to the red
and swelling barges as
past the window
the view from my dad’s old rooftop, looking east towards the end of the valley.
it’s a little homesick, maybe, but i know i can’t go back.
so it’s different this time.
the rest of the pictures are here: