Like This Together – Crisis



A year, ten years from now
I’ll remember this –
this sitting like drugged birds
in a glass case
-Adrienne Rich (from “Like This Together”)

Highway 10
and east is muddled
by the first March rain,
the fog like merino wool,
and our premature dreams of summer.
The sky, gray as an old man’s jacket,
plunges to the peaks of hills,
hangs itself from the hooks of our habits
of never saying what we really mean.
This skewed altitude
is a measure of hazards,
of hasty leaps
and bad timing.

Three hours outside the city
and only then do I notice the conifers,
despite being green all year.
I teeter on your words
as you tell the café owners
that we’re getting married next summer
that we’ve been eyeing the farms on the way here
that you’ve professed your love outside an Esso.
The mirror in the washroom is warped
and we drink wine and pretense out of mugs.
Distance and appreciation are proportional.
Tomorrow I will miss the trees.
I will miss your fluted fictions.

Men have befriended you through stories
of women gone wrong: you lead them in chorus,
they come to your shows
having memorized your words as their own.
A man brings in his three-year-old
whose toy crocodile devours everything
(inherited from her mother, he claims)
and he sings with you and doesn’t pause
even when his ex comes in, irritated,
takes the child away, half-asleep in her arms.
He swigs his beer,
tells us to drive carefully,
to watch for what lies in our peripheries:
the ice, the wandering drunks, the deer.

And all day it rained.
All day the stairs skinned over with ice,
all day dirty water cleared
as it trickled down hillocks.
More than you
I will remember how water
slicked the country,
how it clung, cataracts to the rocks,
the sound of pinging pellets
against the windshield –
all to lacquer the day
fix us sheeted in ice, scleral,
while we drove across Quebec,
like a dilated pupil,
checking our blind spots.

Gillian Sze's debut poetry collection, Fish Bones, was shortlisted for the QWF McAuslan First Book Prize. Her second book, The Anatomy of Clay, was published this spring with ECW Press. She is co-editor of Branch Magazine and resides in Montreal where she is pursuing a PhD.