26

Being me is not enough
for someone like you.
If all my affection piled up like
an avoided accordion file,
you’d say I was too much
with no folder big enough
to carry the burden of
such an expansive heart.

I called you once, in a huff
ready to say everything I had pent up–
that you were selfish and cruel,
how dare you try to shove my wild love aside
because it was more than what you wanted.

If my worst trait was being “too much,”
then maybe it was your worst trait, too
that you couldn’t carry it.

I’ve read universes of books to know
someone telling you they didn’t hurt you
has no business in telling you so.

I’d yell and yell and yell
and you’d say “are you done?”
like waiting for the beep
you’d leave your message
while I sat on the line, listening
to everything you weren’t willing to hear
but it’s different, coming from you

All you’d say was “my, me, I,”
and all I’d hear was the dial tone.

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25

Like a button labelled “do not press”
you’ve never listened to your mother’s instructions.
“Be nice to girls,”
“Don’t touch someone else’s things,”
barging through my door, you
scolded my table manners

“You’re so irresistible, how
could I have stayed away from you?”
Like misinformed flattery,
like a free sample,
you just had to try.

Like your fear of missing out was greater than
any pain I’d feel after you realized I wasn’t your cup of tea
spat out, my fault I was too hot
on the tip of your tongue.

My mistake
for being too hard to swallow,
if only I was more complacent
I could’ve been like honey,
smooth silk down your esophagus.

Too bad my father raised me to drink my tea black
so I’d learn what quality tasted like in my own mouth.
And while you continue to disobey your mother’s axioms,
I wonder when you’ll realize she’s
the only woman who will ever love you.

24

All my love had always been held
in callused touch.
I was used to unreturned calls;
unopened text messages;
laughing at jokes that weren’t funny;
pretending not to be hurt when
he said he wanted casual,
as if me taking us seriously
was a silly miscalculation.

I’d stay awake nights
the bags under my eyes
heavy with tears
like lost luggage,
a carousel spinning away.

Every pair of hands upset me to the point I thought
I had made a grand mistake,
thinking there was not a single soft pair of hands
in the world meant for me.

I had been so used to being shut out
that your warmth and tenderness terrified me.

But you didn’t leave–you said,
“Where else would I rather be,
than here, with you,
as you have so graciously made room for me?”

23

It’s easy to romanticize the past,
that we once had it so easy
because damn,
it sure hurt a hell of a lot
at the time.

At the core of me is a
jaw breaker centre
filled with ghosts of all the people I could’ve been
all the tears I shed, in defence
and how they turned me to cement

All I wanted to say, realized
only after I’ve walked away.
Like trying to subdue a snowstorm,
I should have been Miss Behaviour
and turned back around.

I always thought we experienced pain now
because our future selves deserve more;
they’re worth more than this ache
and frankly,
they have more important things to tend to
than themselves.

We hurt now because pain hurts less (later on)
when we’ve already
quietly forgotten what we cried about.

But as it turns out,
it has been quite the effort
to keep afloat.
The promise of “later”,
a doll, dulled
waiting in the cold so long,
waiting for the water to run warm
that once I dipped my toes in,
the drastic change burned me, even so.

22

In daylight, I radiated its warmth
finding softness in the caress of another’s hands
I was told I was chosen because
I was the most vibrant, the
most desired in the whole plot.

Callused hands took me
displays in vase
water and sugar
you told me to take this as
a compliment

You’d watch every morning as I withered
you mourned me and thought
“She was so young, just so pretty,
if only she’d live on her own strength,”
but I did!
but I would’ve

You pulled me from the soil I had been nurtured by
so you could feed from my beauty.
You only gave me sunlight through the convenience of your window
when I had already inherited it from
the blossoms before me.

You’re not my saviour
(not that I ever needed one)
women aren’t flowers
underneath, we’re a complex
a web of intertwined roots

And you better believe that next time
our network of infrastructure will run so deep
you’d have to yank us from the ground
with all your might
if you ever want our sisters again.

21

Children killed by
a gun in a child’s hands
and all we have left
are grains of sand
slipping through our hands
fleeting, passing
until it happens again.

How can I not be sentimental
over lost time?

What if all of life was a bank
withdraw and deposit as we felt fit?
All those years those children will never live
placed in a pool
for anyone to fulfill.

A father on a deathbed
aching to walk his daughter down the aisle
buys a few years,
based on another’s sacrifice.
Just enough time to make a memory,
postpone the tears.
If only we could live on
borrowed time.

“How sad we have become,”
but have we really “become” anything?
we’ve become complacent
we’ve become regretful
of all the ways we’ve let them down
of all the children we couldn’t save.

20

The chorus within
swelled a rush of relief
a pendulum that had finally
acquired equilibrium

Tucking in my memories of you,
I slipped away quietly
into the night
with only so much as the
click of the door
behind me.

You gnawed through my wires
and instead of throwing you out,
I just kept buying more to replace
the ones you ruined.

I filled my home with ghosts
of all the traits I tried to make you into
of all the kind things I wished you’d say
hoping one day you’d
fill in the blanks;
all it left me with was
a haunted house.

A cabin, fevered
of seasons passing while I
stayed the same
my leaves, still in place
my flowers, still in bloom

You aren’t the sun
and I’m not just a
stained glass window
I am the moon, the stars
and you’re a telescope
and goddamnit,
you’re going to admire me.