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I came back to Winnipeg on December 13th, and quickly fell into a feverish yearning for my high school crush. On my first night, under two thick blankets and embracing my stuffed dog, I gazed at the streetlamp and black sky and snow-covered road, and felt my past surface as a dark ember. In the weeks prior I had been worried that memories of the summer, afternoons of unspeakable depression, would haunt me stubbornly, but the cold and the changed trees allowed no other season to exist in my consciousness. All I could think about were those freezing evenings with a violin case on my back, the sound of tuning instruments in the basement rehearsal room, and my stupid naïve longing for a boy I had fantasized would kiss me first.

I grabbed my notebook and wrote lines like “In my Winnipeg, the only person who mattered was you,” and “your gaze fell in the air like misunderstanding.” For several brief moments I wanted to call you. I had no fear. I was just curious, curious perhaps about whether you had changed, whether you were still of the temperament to do the things you had done when we knew each other more intimately. I would like to say that on my side I am of changed temperament, that I would no longer read Ezra Pound to a hopeful someone by the river, foolish and nervous, but of course I still would, flowing river or frozen.

The heat of the emotion left me some days later and I started to meld into other, more recent emotions. At some point I dug up my old notebook and I found a poem (a dual poem, the only one of such I’ve written thus far) about a visit to the Art Gallery. It was the year of the Picasso exhibition, the summer where my skin was tanned to a shade my mom scorned at, the time I still believed you could like me. What I didn’t understand then was that even if you did, it would not count for much, not in the way I wanted and deserved. I would look at you looking at a woman of cubes; I do not remember suspecting you would ever look back at me.


  1. AJ (also under the Nom de Plum Salty Codger) says

    If only you could understand just how true all of this rings to me. Decades away from Highschool, bookmarked with years of recovery and times of active addiction, depression, and despair.

    The years I was married were wonderful, though they left me wounded and bleeding, wrecked on her shore. Trying to carry on since her passing alone in this cruel place, longing to hear the voice of love above the maelstrom, for someone to reach out – take me home, and save me from the waves.

    • gracema says

      AJ, thank you for your piercing words. I hope you may find, despite the cruelty, cover, a quiet spot, a repose from the tides, a welcoming of the sun, so you may rest in the voice of love. Even if only briefly; sometimes I think how even a brevity can be enough.

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