things more important than “by the way, want to sleep with me later?”

Over my shoulder, the message lands, beginning with “Happy New Year Lady” and ending with “My love to any animals frozen in your freezer.” What else is there to reply but, “I love you too.”? We were a disaster in Toronto. We’ve been a disaster plenty of times. It is okay that I am Atlantis. Yes, I can see the forest for the trees, and these trees are shaking, waiting for the rain that falls to break them, waiting for the day when your hand takes my hand and we run into the ocean, laughing.

The Queen has a YouTube channel.

I touch both my eyes, and hear the real question, “what is romance to you?” It’s been a question he’s been skirting, trying to fall into step with me, but not having any idea what I might want to expect. I dredge my memory, easily splintering a few emotions, and call up past relationships. Riffling through the options like thank you cards. The day I collected all the light strings in the house and taped them into a giant glowing heart on the wall above the bed. It lived there for over a month, crookedly falling down regularly, charming and gentle. The cookies I baked iced with naughty poetry, the candles I left in a trail like flower petals, she loves you, she loves you not, she loves you, she loves you not, something to count on the way to the bed. Notes left in clothing, under books, inside his wallet, inside the lunch bag. I like your eyes they might say, or you make everything worthwhile. A magic trick recorded at four a.m., exhausted, but glad. The chocolate I made, then left in a tin at the front door of his office, with a calligraphy note signed in invisible ink.

I thought everyone expressed themselves like this, moving through the world with poetry, an unspoken law, but I can see by his tightening smile, so sad, he does not.

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