“I Made a House of Houselessness”,
by Rose O’Neill
I made a house of houselessness,
A garden of your going:
And seven trees of seven wounds
You gave me, all unknowing:
I made a feast of golden grief
That you so lordly left me,
I made a bed of all the smiles
Whereof your lip bereft me:
I made a sun of your delay,
Your daily loss, his setting:
I made a wall of all your words
And a lock of your forgetting.
We lay on the warm, damp sand of Jericho beach last night as the heavens broke over our heads, lightning splitting the sky open with mad electricity, the afterimage daylight of it shattering the night with a stunning simplicity, wrapped in a synthetic purple blanket on loan from my mother’s ex-boyfriend who let me cry on his shoulder in New York, holding each others hands against the rain. Once I could have dreamed of such a thing, even down to the loud wedding at Brock House that supplied a bizarre soundtrack of bland rock music played by an uninteresting band, but it’s been so long that I’ve been knocked down, that I can’t tell if this is what it feels like to get back up. The rain was almost welcome, a distraction from my abstraction, from wishing I didn’t remember what it’s like to be in love.
The storm had begun hours before, aristocratically sweeping in from the ocean on a glowing push of wind, crackling with lunatic energy, ardent and vehement in its regard. I was upstairs painting in Kitsilano, blind to the flickering flashes of camera shot lightning, radio turned up, on the phone with Brooklyn. I was trapped working, elegantly turning the brush against the edges of light-switches and outlets, stripped down against the balmy temperatures, dressed only in paint, spackle, and my underwear, waiting for my flirtationship to arrive, to pool our time together in front of a movie in the park. I only discovered it when the thunder kicked in, a sound so thick and heavy that when it broke over the house like blood, it set off every car alarm available within three blocks. The sky on fire, the world burning with a classical white light. Sheet lightning, forked lightning, bright, scintillant strike lightning, all crawling across the clouds in high speed, literal, incredible maps of electron flow.
Just the day before I had expressed how much I missed proper storms, those Toronto explosions, wet and furious and perfect as sex, unbelievably satisfying, morphine for my spirit. (We had been sitting on my porch, the same place I had held someone else’s hand and asked if they’d like to go on a date, the air tasting of salt and sweat and the white of his clothes, beautiful, summer incarnate, and been turned down.) The sky had been as clear as ice, only vaguely speckled with altocumulous, more pretty than promising. Yet there we were, wrapped in the weather I had wished for, as if I were a witch that had called it into being, and he turned to me like a good back beat, gesturing at the treasure of the tempest, and said, “The storm followed me all the way from White Rock. I brought it with me, just for you.”
I pictured him driving in, battling the wet road with his low slung sports car, dedicated enough to travel an hour to meet me for a movie he knew we wouldn’t get to, the scope of what the weather must have looked like from there, the scope of his commitment, and thought, “Alright. I can work with this. It is not what I wanted, not what I was waiting for, but this will be enough. With this, I can try again to live.”