Alex Manley

St. John’s

I flew in a day ahead of a burst of good weather,
so the first tastes I got—

a winding mural teeming with fishermen, a kindly old butcher,
and a vegan-but-not-quite-vegan plate of huevos rancheros

—were rain-soaked. I didn’t mind. To bathe in your light
seemed enough, so much so that, later in the week,

I took to leaving
your bathroom light off.

I heard someone say that the new sheriff in town
was a pair of twins. Rings of Greek

mythology, or maybe a telenovela. But here, some
of the old rules just didn’t seem to apply.

For one, you paid for everything;
for two, we drank early and often,

and I grew confident slipping into your Subaru,
long as we had fewer than three cocktails in our systems.

Of course, you never taught me how to drive
in a mid-day parking lot, like you’d promised;

and we never went back to take selfies with the
Terry Fox statue, to apologize for the sin

of our proud refusal to believe in his purity of spirit
when we were just a pair of mouthy kids,

and we certainly never did the one thing I’d dreamt
two friends might do when drunk together on an island.


Still, I got to know a lot: the local cabbies;
the icebergs, the cocktails, the dogs,

a museum (The Rooms) with a taxidermied flamingo,
a bartender (Olivia) with perfectly winged eyes,

the sight of the full moon’s bright
from the darkness across the harbour,

and the oddity of hearing Sade played
in such a small, white town, two days running.

At season’s end, like an ankle, the local sports team
(they’re called the IceCaps) is dislocating.

Maybe they’re riding out
in this mid-April melt,

which turns stoic faces
of rock to roaring falls,

the public parks’ peaceful water features
to churning rapids.

Or maybe they’re flying out, like me,
from this rinky-dink little airport,

where three or four gates are compressed into one,
like the accordions flanking the tiny planes,

like the word “boy” becoming “b’y,”
like the fifteen minutes it took me

from sitting shotgun in the Jiffy cab
to reading poems in the departure lounge.

Like the way thirteen years
of holding someone in your heart

can be expressed as a simplified equation,
two words scribbled on the back of a credit card envelope.

I also left you a can of pure Quebec maple syrup,
(ultra light) and all of the dishes done.

You left me with a set of instructions:
Just don’t forget to talk about the weather.


Alex Manley is a Montreal-based writer and editor, a graduate of Concordia University's creative writing program, and the winner of the 2012 Irving Layton Award for Fiction. His writing has appeared in Maisonneuve magazine, Shabby Doll House, Peach Mag, and Powder Keg, among others, and his debut poetry collection, We Are All Just Animals & Plants, was published by Metatron Press in 2016.