the disconnection is refreshing.
i feel better, but i still feel worse than ever. at least it’s summer, and i have cigarettes & lucky beers.
when i was eight, nine, ten years old i had terrible nightmares that you would die in various train accidents. there were no trains in our quiet village; the trains ran below, in dundas, along the sculpted ridge of the niagara escarpment.
and now you actually are dead.
how can that be true.
eyes were slow coals
traced in a line to the last
place his mouth was
acids in stomachs passed
one breath to my breath
pore on pore
were shared without tongues,
our muscles relaxed lacking use
in a memory, i didn’t live here yet. i was pregnant and i was single and i had a terrible wardrobe. i was in love with two boys and i couldn’t bring either of them with me (if i had wanted to). i was about to give up my car, my driver’s license, my job, my friends, my life. i needed to schedule an abortion. i drank tim horton’s instead of starbucks. i depended entirely on six packs & cigarettes.
i got lost. i drove right past what i now consider my favourite place, my go-to place. i turned around at the stadium, recognizing the structure from a photograph. i made my way. and then i met you. somehow, even in a memory, i met you.
and in a memory, i worked 10 hour shifts in a basement. i dyed my hair blonde, then dark brown. i broke my phone and lost all my phone numbers and assumed a new identity. i remembered you. i went blonde again. i moved into a new apartment with hardwood floors. i played house and did the dishes and the apartment burned down. i moved again and i remembered you. i had roommates and i fell hard, incredibly in love with white wine. and i eventually tore down the life i had created and moved into a new room.
that is when i let you in, asked you in. let memories fold over realities, let the lines blur. i tried and tried to keep remembering but the only you i see is in a classroom, spilling water on the floor.
i’m sure that things have been worse before. much worse. if i remember correctly. but these are only memories; i might have made them up.
when i was a little girl he played a song on a record player and the song made me cry so he’d stop the record and i’d beg him, i’d beg him to put it back on and it was “only if you don’t cry” and i’d promise and he’d play it and i’d cry and cry and then he’d let it play and then i’d beg to hear it one more time and then we didn’t go back one day and it has made me cry every time since then, and now when she sings it i am hardened and cold.
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.
too many bugs was
her reason for leaving, she became
by dawn a traveling memory
with my suitcase
there are signs that only
she believes in, that spaces
remain vacant and
pristine until a moment,
a kiss or question asked
over bent knees
occurs inside them, that
grids in city
planning are designed to prove
that it will work
she doesn’t trust you if your
street curves, if you
live on a dead end.
and the kitchen where the
drains are, the side
door and the vents,
that come up from the basement
today i’m seeing the world completely differently, and not in the way that you think. you don’t know what you’re talking about. it’s not that way at all. it’s like i haven’t slept in weeks, my brain being like a drained sponge resting heavy in the back of its cavity, a dirty lump. i feel sketched out, is what it is. i feel like i’m coming off one hell of a pill-binge, right fucked you know, right right, sixteen hours of pure raging madness, lights and colour. i can’t eat, can’t taste, can’t smoke, can’t see. my skin doesn’t even stop crawling when i look down at it. bare arms, too cold. i see dirt that isn’t even there, you know, just old familiar film that can’t be peeled away, disposed of. moving always, muddy clouds across the surface, bit by bit. i’m right fucked up and i couldn’t tell you why.
this one time, when i was eighteen and she was just pushing the borders of sixteen and we were still such little girls, right, we were high for eleven hours in the dismal smoky disaster that we sometimes tried to pass off as our dining room. at ten-thirty in the morning i put on a pair of jeans and the striped shirt with the red neckline that back then i wore almost every day. pen and notebook and, still totally fucked out of my head, i bussed down to j-square with richard and kim and justin. this was when i was still seeing richard, maybe i think, and kim and justin wore studded leather jackets and clingy jeans and bullet belts and it was all kind of the way it’s wrapping up right now, you know, strung out. alone in the whole world, watching everything with my mouth stuck hanging open, eyes steadily scratched by every living thing instead of corners.
you reach a point when you just stop caring i guess. when what the world sees isn’t really what’s there at all. everyone thinks they really know me, you know, they have a good idea at least but no one does. i’m only myself when i’m in bed, my bed, his bed, someone else’s bed, or when i’m writing. i foresee, once these recorded thoughts begin to leak a little more, or once a moment in a bed is the undoing moment, i foresee a lonely fucking future.
my hair only looks good in the middle of the night, which is tremendously unfair and there’s coffee in the back of my throat all the time even when i’ve brushed my teeth and i don’t mind, it’s not about feeling clean, it never is, it’s about managing exhaustion and spitting the remainder of the day into the sink (most nights i don’t, too familiar to exhuming), it’s about rolling over and facing the wall because it’s blank and it almost never stares back, which is where i was the most comfortable in far too long and almost forget, it’s too many missed calls and the constant debate about changing my voicemail message and becoming something better than i used to be but the debate isn’t as constant as i like to think because i haven’t changed it, and if i did i don’t really think i’d like it, but i don’t like the way it is, so maybe it isn’t a debate at all i really wouldn’t know i’m not super good at arguing, even when it’s with myself and i don’t care, i wouldn’t want to be, i don’t mind losing every time because forgetting is as easy as much as giving in, not that i ever give in because i don’t, not in at least and when i think about my voicemail i think about the way he just forgot my name, how could he forget my name, how could he be so sure and in an instant of my absence lose it all, every touch bled into every drop of ink on every page and he forgot, and it isn’t like i care except i know somehow i should, and the good thing about march is rambling sentences and the reason it’s good is that i can spit out papers like toothpaste when i’m running on caffeine like this and happiness and dancing on the tips of toes against the backdrop of a paper lamp, two promises too many for tomorrow, let me sleep on it and call you back, once one time a long time ago i had his phone number memorized and never once failed pressing 9 to dial out, could feel like fate the charge of us exploding through the wires and just the other day, i guess more like a week i had to think but it’s a 5, it’s never been an 8 and now i’m not so sure, it’s always been a 5 and you forgot my name and it wouldn’t be important except when i look back i know you never really got it right since no one ever does, almost, i know it isn’t your forgetting that i’m mad at, i get forgetting i’m a fan, i’m not mad i’m just uncertain though a bit and i keep talking, the way i’d talk to you and never stop, always looking up and back, back and forth, and up, back then back when i did my hair and showered in the middle of the day, which was all right but was undone by too late twilights and the summer heat and now you’re gone (i’m always talking, you’re always listening, ash from my fingertips, my shirt) and i don’t even care, and not because of the whole name thing, although if you were to ask by chance by slender chance i’d tell you that was why.
everyone was dancing in the parking lot of mac’s milk and there was a sing-a-long, or something, but i can’t remember the song. i had asked you for something, like change for a coffee or a cigarette and you were trying to help me but too much was going on. you knew i wasn’t worried and your eyes were very full. not in a bad way at all. it was simple and everyone kept dancing and there were puddles all over the place. everything was reflecting in the streetlights and the mac’s sign, which was still yellow. right as i was waking up i was spinning and could see you. your arm was held out and you were wearing your jacket, which i like because you look good in it.
today i did an unnaturally generous thing and was repaid instantly for it. he was an awkward reminder of all my friends back at home. he was scrawny and dressed blandly in skinny black jeans and a brown toque and a beautiful chemical smile. for my brief trust in him i received a single wrinkled American cigarette and vibrant recollections of the narrow, yellow kitchen in my father’s apartment.