It’s been three weeks since you’ve left and what has changed and what hasn’t changed rest in the movement of the hour. Spring came today weighted and unexpected, and I paced through my day with a clear veil over my eyes. There was no wind to sway it, even a little.
Toronto has never looked this good for a March Saturday, and I can’t find the words in me to say it better. The sun-blue follows me everywhere and I follow it back; the sun-blue never followed me. Is this what it’s like to live without time? Just the particles, the colours, the infuriating reality of these careful shadows, a solid paint-stroke. Maybe it really is so blue.
Sometimes suddenly, a ray pierces my heart and lends me strength to last a year. The lending period is much shorter, however. A few breaths, or one conversation, enough for a laugh and a glint. …”How do you measure viability?” I ask. “The ability of cells to still reproduce.”
What else to do, after being reminded of all the news that weighs you (us) down, then to remember the sky, and bend your knees to observe the soil around a defrosting tree, rich brown and budding. Maybe somebody else’s prayers are being wrongly gifted to me.
What’s next, what can I do? Cancel first person, stop listening to dissonance, sleep? Really, I’m asking.
Perhaps there is little difference between day and night. Between you and me, we live both at once and it seems it is not enough. And too much.
What happened? …How did it happen? I asked. You replied, We laughed.
How can I understand how to love you under the sun? That is, how to love you when you have turned your back to the cloud, when you have left the missed hours behind, to gladly face your own? How do I begin bearing this still gray weight, and recognize it as my own?
On Saturday you told me you did not know how to love me more; on Sunday… well, on Sunday. (This is why I ask all these questions, and blame myself).
There is meaning in prolonging the sweetness, I realized, there is meaning in tomorrow, I hoped, and there is meaning in these words, I prayed. There is always a difficulty, and the difficulty is that some difficulties are harder to accept than others.
Is there a gentleness lost that can’t be regained? Did I make the choice to put your picture by my desk, or was that choice already made for me?
Look, it’s soon March, and I’m not the one weeping,
you are the one weeping,
and yes, I am weeping.
It’s a leap year,
so here I am, trying to negotiate
an early bloom, a new, normal
I know we agreed to stop counting
by Day 3 or 4, but when you’re asleep,
I cannot help but crinkle the pages,
dare a re-glimpse.
(What do I discover but the words,
blinding and binding,
and your gentle breathing?)
My friends and my mother likely think
I am stupid (of course not!
I am stupid for thinking that), subjecting
myself to the night like this,
the easy colour of its longing.
Well, yes—yes to it all.
Accepting their love,
Despairing over the climate,
Thinking of how you’ve kept folded,
the shirt I folded for you.
The days are getting longer.
I won’t (won’t!) weep in your morning.
The day after you left, a biting wind brewed in the city. I walked down familiar streets, the streets parallel to our route two days prior, with my black jacket on, the thin metal butterflies on my earrings tinkling violently against each other, gold against green against gold.
I exited campus, passed by Grange Park, veered around the construction that I had noticed when we first met, all to the sounds of this wind, which was voiceless and mindless to me. When I finally arrived, I did not wait long to be greeted by R, who brought me what I had asked to take care of. He carefully took out the small bonsai tree from his plastic bag to fit it into my tote bag, and handed me a spray bottle— “I believe you have to mist it everyday.” I wished him a safe flight home.
The pines were shedding, they stung too. I crossed the street to the coffee shop where we had our first date, opened the door to be met by a wave of afternoon chatter. I stared at the table where two ladies now sat and where once you were waiting with your then-cropped hair and wide hazel eyes, as I rushed in with my bike helmet still on.
I kept on walking back up the street, gripping the tote bag carefully away from my body so that the wind would not veer it into my legs and break a branch of the bonsai. Past the Park I arrived next to the AGO and entered, took off my jacket and stuffed it in my backpack and got it checked, like you had done with yours the many months ago (it was only three… only three). I carried my notebooks and I carried my tote bag, walking quietly past the Canadian Art to the expresso bar overlooking the street through wooden patterns. I ordered a mint tea, found a table and placed the bonsai on the table. The light outside was the white light of light grey clouds, a dream somehow. I called you for a short while, imagining the night in front of your eyes.
Before the gallery was to close I made my way to those gentle, twisting, wide wooden stairs you had voiced wonderment for, and as I trudged upwards I felt a stifling heat, and I felt my body giving way to something tearful and visceral. When I reached the top, I folded my arms on the wood and hid my sobbing. The city still looked beautiful, and I was still at the beginning of my loss.
I left the gallery hungry, and walked with an almost fated purpose to the Korean restaurant across the street, where we had eaten three days prior. I made my way through two glass doors and gestured one finger to the waiter. I placed the tote bag on the chair in front of me, and ordered pork with broth, which came, as usual, with five side dishes. (I made sure to eat the sweetened potatoes the slowest, you had liked those the best.) We texted and I used many napkins, even though the broth wasn’t that spicy.
The final walk back to campus was a blur in a falling evening, 5-second heavings that I would suppress with a hand to my mouth. The wind was ever-looming, and the temperature was dropping. When I finally made it to my door, I stumbled in my room, looked at my empty bed, and lost myself to a heavy desperation, an offbeat wailing that blindingly demanded, “Why did you leave—Why did you leave—Why did you leave…”
Eventually my pacing lightened, and eventually I called my mom, and eventually I called you again, for longer this time. It was Day 1.
I am listening to a song and I can no longer listen, but still I listen to the song, because… Well, I don’t know at all. I don’t think I have ever remembered the feeling, the exposure of a moment so deeply. It turns deeply beyond my mind and within my stomach. It was the beginning and somehow already the end, though everything is already an end (01/12/20).
Australia is burning. The American flag is being burned in Iran.
There is no adequate, virtuous-enough transition that permits me to gently guide myself into telling the goodness of my day. (So why I did not just start with a less grabbing line… Why I did I simply not count my blessings…)
10 in Vancouver, 4 in Toronto, and -3 in Winnipeg. It was bliss – warm, “literally hot,” as I told the barista at Thom Bargen, who laughed as he repeated it back to me like I laughingly repeat back things I find funny in its helpless dumbness. Oatmeal with “whole milk” again, but this time barely enough of the milk. Most mild and delicate oatmeal I’ve had in a while; couldn’t have been steel cut.
June, Gift & Thrift, Bison Books, short stint in the Air Canada building, Mom and I walking down Princess Street for a Friday lunch! We order 3 sides at Clementine’s and the waitress utters in the most neutrally unimpressed tone: “that’s it?” Yes Ma’am, that’s all, we won’t eat ourselves full anyways, although maybe water full, thank you, water! All of the potatoes, cauliflower, panna cotta were fabulous. I was hungry by 2 PM.
Back at the Forks I did nothing but sit myself down on an EQ3 chair (look at how well integrated advertising works!) and feel jolted by the rounded loudness of the conversations around me. I had visited my old supervisors at work; they, welcoming as always and I, realizing the forest green of the building was really suited for Christmas decorations, especially the 60s tint kind. Following was the light trek to the Forks, the divine smell of Tall Grass Prairie entering the market (cinnamon, bread, warmth, the right amount of favourable spices).
Canadian hitchhiking poetry, a nap, an Elizabeth Bishop poem and a Johny Cash song.
I returned home giddy with life. Did my Day 2 of 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene (and Benji). Chatted with two of my friends. Worked on a little project. Finished the little project. Starting writing this post to attempt to begin piercing the bubble of experience that has been growing since I was born, but for this case in purpose, especially since reading week in November.
Do I make it my own? Do I make it my own?
Is something you decide on, and something you must accept for yourself.
This life would be all the worst without yearning. Whether I’m trying to make an assurance for myself or a truth, I am not sure, and I am not sure if it matters, because what is said has been said.
If I’ve read more than I’ve lived, than I know nothing of either. Either way, I know nothing of either. The only thing I can know better are people, and somehow this always becomes a funny game that shows itself in the most unexpected matters. Still funny, but uncomfortably human. That’s the closest to comfort we will get.
Nothing is ever said in a vacuum, or under the propensity of universality. These are all pretences, but perhaps you are a much more considerate writer. Still, I think of the smallest human unit. Things as written for the smallest human unit. Perhaps this idea is too romantic, or too idealistic, or too grandiose. But what is there to feeling alive than that?
Much more! But that’s for another time, for which I yearn in anticipation and dread.
In words, in the very thought of words, I find the only comfort I am able to give myself. Not the words as memory, or as anticipation, or as honouring.
The words as their very presence, because any more and I shall gain them, meaning I will lose them, meaning I will need to restart somehow.
But no meaning, in fact, and no gains and losses, in fact, but in universe, and in my heart, in the one single atom of life.
You, of all people, should understand this. You, of all people, I know not to disturb.
To hear your voices and to hear them still, and then to hear them no longer and to begin typing the end of this sentence. To cup my hands to my face, in the weight of silence, and to run your words over my mind until my cheeks are warm. To formulate this loneliness, this darkness painted blank, and to feel the time running and opening and not opening at once. To give in to the line… the line still… To digress because the sake of digressing is all we have.