9

“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.

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8

I don’t know how
I want to love you:
like breath,
so integral to life
you forget I’m here?
Or like a warm winter jacket
you boast to everyone
and never regret the purchase?

Forever in my head
mulling the maze of
overbear versus undervalue
hurdles of head/heart.

I wrote this scene myself
envisioned our dialogue
and even now we’re still
only dress rehearsal.

Ideally, the noise tapers
room: illuminated
me: alleviated
until my dream drops
to the pit of my stomach.

Lump: rises
mouth: opens
“I want to love you,
but I don’t know how.”

 

Sleeping At Last – Neptune

7

In love like
warm blankets and cold coffee
forgotten like cares
we used to feel for others.

I thought before when my heart broke,
it shred;
but like a pet burrowing in its
hamster home
you’ve made a bed
and you’ve created softness there.

Now we have each other
to settle into
our own nook of the universe
a book to pick up on rainy days
spine worn from familiar hands.

What a kind love I have,
one that invites only lightness
enveloped in the promise of
later laundry,
responsibilities for another time.

What if we lay in bed long enough
laugh quieter
rustle blankets only a little;
would the world forget us?
Would we forget
it, too?

6

You are an anthology
of all the kindness
and all the sadness
you’ve ever felt.

Event invitations not addressed to your name;
Saturday cartoons, summer morning;
big laughs, behind your back;
dim lights, birthday candles (and counting)
amounting to the distinction between loved and lost
every year you’ve lived.

Be reminded that your life
is woven in plush light–
adoration of parents
who loved each other so much
they needed to diversify their affections
into you.

Your story began long before you were born
and I’m sorry we ran out of time.
Frantically grasping memories:
no matter how nimble my fingers are,
they can’t turn the clock’s hands
fast enough to bring you back.

Like your broken knuckle,
maybe our bones will reset in place one day.
Imperfectly,
with an ache always laced in-between, pulsing.

 

RIP:  10/30/2017

5

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.

4

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.