(he is still in the air), this is a gift, {welcome home}


Winter creeping back in, as if it forgot something in the front hall. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Our card keys not working two nights in a row. Black suitcases, brocade. He bought me a corset, he did, my heart glowed. It blazed from my chest, a red light to guide the blind, but it didn’t fit. They’re tricky things, all boning and busk, slim lines and I’m ten inches too wide, too thin, too shaped already. An hour and a half at the shop for them to take it back. An hour glass slumped in an old diner on Davie st. falling asleep on a shoulder, yawning wide, teeth shiny like the chrome lining the tables. Formica, red seats, milkshakes, it’s been here forever. Everything already ten years old. This place, these people. I never told you his name. Words flashing by, sparking sweet recognition, laughter. Clouds, muslin, always, always writing about the sky. His brown eyes. I am a gosling, torn. I can feel my heart like a light, blazing, bright, and happy. Inside my chest is thin starshine, the dust we are made of, picture perfect, luminous, shining, only imagined. Plastic bags of yesterday’s dinner, breakfast. It blazes, burning my skin. Stopping in to buy more cigarettes, more prophylactics. Two boxes and one. Our gratitude no less than our compassion. It’s the best shopping list. On the magazine cover 10 THINGS HE CRAVES IN BED. Denied. Trees sway when we laugh, damp with warm Vancouver rain. Nick is down the street, waiting, walking. I recognize his stride, his big black coat flapping. Spring steel, dark with light purple, Valentines, Elizabethan, so my middle name. We shared a taxi up to Broadway before I tried it on. The mirror lied. Construction zone jack hammering on a Sunday morning.


Opening envelopes, my house slowly being buried, neglected, unseen. A bracelet, a pair of earrings, a card, two stories, my name. Green, green, so messily written, so charmingly crafted, a treasure trove. My name. It’s official and legal and I already tore the paper pulling it from the envelope. My birthday present from last year. My Name. I turn to him in bed to say I don’t like how if movies were true, all men would have a father complex. Suicide, murder, be proud of me pops. Gonna be a soldier, gonna take down the man, fight for my country, stand up and be counted as another worn hero, broken bones and shallow dialogue. Don’t like it, don’t want it, don’t have to have it, but here, I insist. Paperwork, with years, with spelling, I erased my parents. Created only my mother, mouse haired, we don’t look alike, to have and to hold, to protect and cherish and yet my last name is mine. Always will be until I can pass it on, give it over, give it away. here, a present. My name. Amazing what spelling can change. Two letters and already I am disconnected from my family. A million cousins, a thousand brothers, stories from farther away than outer space. Sicilian mob bosses, gypsy queens, grandfathers wandering the wars. When she was rescued, she was told she couldn’t eat more than a single slice of bread. Everyone who tried to carry gold was shot crossing the river. Vanished now. Wiped away. My name is mine. These are my hands, capable, but unattached.


The second attempt fit better, a satin shell. It creaks like a ship. Sailing, the sweep of hip, memories of leaning out to catch water in my hand, so blue in my head it looks like the sky had drowned there like we can’t breathe, like we clip our fingers together above his head. No one in the world could echo in such slow motion. Sailing, one of those strange skills. We’re full of tricks. Destruction and beauty, everywhere I swerve, he is straight. Never before have I been so aware of the word flesh, his lack of it. Sticks and stones, my body the anchor, softer, heavier, more capable of balance. I carry him. We are a Waterhouse painting. Idiosyncratic, aberration, he calls me improbable. He tells me I am to die by vanishing in a puff of logic. The pattern of our presents drips off my tongue, the hollow of a thought, the success of clear thinking. The girl at the shop had a tattoo of a heart beaten full of nails, she stays open an hour after close, as he peers in, asks questions. We burn my back tightening the cord. This was my place. Walls lined synthetic pink, soft jelly plastic, PVC on hooks, cheap zippers, bright wigs. Bones. Glad to be gone. Trapped, caught, tying me into another one. Too long, too short, nothing’s just right, velvet, no velvet, we’re on a time-line. He leaves on a plane. Flies away. Don’t let your arms get tired, we’ve got one on the counter, spread like wings, untying, tying, these things take time, grace. Our impatience crawls. His hair like feathers, it’s just a little wind. Outside, we won, satisfied. He flings his cigarette into the street, it arcs, splashes sparks, any minute now, he’s gone.


Personal mythology, the bits and pieces, trapped in amber, rising like liquid. It’s a battle against clocks ticking, this emotional arsenal, holding his hand on the way to work in the morning. Every day back to my life, the shadow of a girl filled in with colours, traced on paper and brought back to life. The crown of my head, a picture on the screen. Smiles that cover my eyes, the lines defining how we fade into one expression from another. The shutter flickers and I keep another breath. It’s important, lining, tracing the slow blast radiating out from his chest, quiet, mine. Safe from sun, safe from dissolution, memory, considerations falling apart. This place, this locket we make of fingers he wears in his sleep, my hand as a bracelet, safe. The unfamiliar feeling. Kind desires bubble under my skin like blood crawling under dew, breaking our bodies into confusion, stroking mythical bees over my shoulders and belly, cool and soft as a swarm of blossoms. Clear, particular, apparently we’re dangerous, wicked spirits, too welcoming. We don’t follow the instructions printed on the box. Housekeeping must hate us. In a way I am writing a eulogy, dramatic music, a canvas of kind words that might glitter the way I see us, might explain what has happened, how ten years out of date, out of synch, our cities matched up, found their names. We’re reflections on still water, a moving knot of stories, my faith restored, an inhuman sound, this comfortable glide from one moment to the next. The last time a long time, five years, seven, we’re moving cities, changing places. Our friend’s wife, she doesn’t understand how much is unspoken. We’re too easy, too familiar, it’s the greatest thing, his leaning over to brush my hair with something clever, sarcastic. We laugh, electric, the three of us, shutting her to the side. We are a postcard. I keep this. It feels important, this odd situation, necessary to get it precisely correct.


This is a pleasure, healed, to be human, flawed, merciless, and embraced. His voice, memorized, I can pull it from air to read my books for me. Inflection perfect, the tilted angle of his head, so fragile, the secret heart of bravery. Experimenting, an inadvertent witness, it changes how I move. There are seams in the edits, wafting hints of his cologne, indications, evidence, digital pictures, him on a beach somewhere in Calfornia, another on a red carpet, the opening of his film. A collection I am creating. Out in the world are wonders, full of third and fourth chances, ocean backdrops, doors opening, alarm clocks in the morning, sunsets, inspirations dramatic and banal. Whispered stories of light and wind, architecture, as escape from sick green glass, the scratchy hotel towels. We are subtle, traveling on each others clothing, creating lines and sine waves on the side of shower walls, not a future, but a conjunction of trust. We are concatenated, tied from every side, unlikely and appropriate, suddenly dead centre. Stories made of endless threads pulling in every direction, the way he looks at me, how I am distracted by the shape of his thinking. Dinner with different friends every night, angles of incidents, who did what, tighter, charming and expressive, radiant. Rock solid truth.

At the airport, sunlight, security. We smile. Quickly, have a bad habit. I live in L.A. That will do. Hug. Hold. Our pictures are few, hopeful and happy. We kiss.

Every journey should be so well lit. (Welcome home).

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