“Say ‘lettuce’ and spell ‘cup.’”

We see those photographs of us as children teasing each other and we call them keepsakes. A time we can’t return to, snapshots of the smallest versions of us literally experiencing everything for the first time in our lives.

Does that suggest that, because we are recycling the same emotions again and again, that we are not actually becoming bigger versions of ourselves, but the same tiny kids experiencing mutations of the same things—some stronger, some weaker?

“Stretch your mouth and say ‘pirate ship.’”

I’m taking pictures everyday. The way the wineglass sweats on the nightstand, the sun peeking through peonies, drunk spills at the bar. I used to be enamoured by the thought that a picture could keep a memory alive, and capture the people inhabiting it in a moment where they will never be the same people again. But I’ve come to realize that, upon flipping through old albums, these glossy photographs haunt me with everything I have ever lost, and all the people I used to be.

I remember a childhood April afternoon, when we flooded in from recess and my blond crush stood by his locker across the hallway and mouthed that he loved me.

“Stick out your tongue and say ‘apple.’”

But I have played these games before, and I knew if you thought about the words and warped your mouth in your mind for long enough, you’d never be bullied again.

I turned away from his smile and headed for class, because I understood that even the ones you want to love will always fit into elephant shoes.



I always find myself
thinking of you
like finding my grade seven MP3 player
and realizing I still know some of the lyrics.

And I still remember the taste of your breath: smoke
and the pizza toppings you hated
and your nails, ridged from teeth
and I realized that we were filled with ‘ands’
how we have known and lost each other
time and time and time again.

You’re a light, flickering
I just couldn’t keep from going out.
How I thought keeping you alight
had kept me aligned
how vast your world seemed
and how its seams burst, filled
with all these lives that I’d never
fit into.

I was a comet in your atmosphere
colliding through your night
you just couldn’t commit to.

You’ll never be a soft place to put this down
but all I can think is:
if you’d just let me in,
if my heart lived in you,
I’d be home by now.


Pawn me off like
grandmother’s engagement ring
that shone and glistened in the right light
until his life
went out.

A value, inherited
of a time soft and kind
but all you see is all the benefit
it doesn’t offer you.

All you ever did was take what you need
and discard the excess
but I was born of oriental poverty
and western opportunity
I was taught the importance of not being wasteful
and to be resourceful, steadfast, gracious
and all you taught me was doubt.

That all my parts that weren’t picture perfect
weren’t meant to amount to much.

And since those days of self loathing
I have learned to clap my hands
for even the parts of me
that I don’t like;
because it’s not the end of the world if you hate me
but I am nothing but endings if I hate myself, too.


“Remember when you used to put me in the basement and close the door, when I didn’t eat all the food on my plate?”

“You never thought to just turn the doorknob. The door was never really locked.”

“I don’t want to be alone like that again. I don’t want to lose you.”

“I combed your hair until you could comb it yourself. It was always…your hair was always so soft, so long.”

“I wish I had spent more time with you. I wish I
loved you more often.”

“You’re my only daughter.”

“Everytime you made me dinner as a kid, you didn’t speak much. I used to think it was because you had nothing to say. But now I know it was because you didn’t need to say anything. The silence
it was nice.”

“I love you
so much.”

“I remember family Christmas parties and falling asleep in the car. I remember you would carry me into the house and pull my shoes off. You’d let me sleep in your bed. You said I reminded you of mom when you were younger.”

“I wish that your mother and I were
were better parents to you kids.”

“I wished for no other happiness than you loving me as much as you do.”

“Children are meant to outlive their parents.”

“I didn’t think it would be this hard. When you’re gone, people will remember you as my dad. I’ll remember you as chauffeur, chef, superhero,
the man who killed the spider, lifted the heavy boxes, always forgot to bring his coffee to the car but always remembered to bring my bear for me, laughed so loud, sneezed like an elephant, called when he thought it was getting late, shook all my boyfriends’ hands, made the pancakes, the man who said ‘Happy Birthday’
on every birthday. But what now?”

“I pray that you choose a man that treasures you, the way I have.”

“You can’t leave me.”

“I have taught you all that I know. I have lived all my life. It’s my
time to go.”

“How am I supposed to continue if you’re not here?”

“Please don’t love me like this.”


Spaghetti strap
I’m always supposed to hate.

The way the sun
smudges skin
indicating all the
parts I passed.

Tips of shoulders, apples of cheeks
all the flesh the cream missed
science revealed prevented touch
but is that what I want?

I love overlapping stripes
collarbone neckline
beach trips bike rides
touched by heat
imprinted in memory like a
human photo album.

Stories woven by hours in
golden light
and when it goes all there’s left
the crunch of leaves
damp dew
grey gravel
steamed milk
atmosphere smeared dark.


A heartfelt maybe
of being more than you wanted me to be
or being too much you couldn’t hold
without me getting close enough
to finally meet you.

I ached to be felt
and you
were addicted to feeling like you were
(somewhere else.)

Where touch hurt too much, me:
swept under the rug like
powder, white
while I waited by the phone
thinking you were
thinking of me.

Silly, thinking I was the centrepiece
but only being the accent pillow
to brighten up a room,
once and a while;
a soft cloud to lay your head
only when you wanted to.

Maybe maybe was really enough
maybe in another life
maybe we could be happy
even if I asked for more
and more and more
and more.

You would’ve put that pillow in the middle
pushed everything aside
to offer me that space within you.

You would’ve made room
for me.