Category Archives: Writing

I don’t want to write today

because I have no words
that can easily replace
resting my hands on your waist
as we fall asleep.
Or how it feels to be grazed
by your stubble,
as we shrug off our slumber.

And I don’t want to write to you today,
no messages or little laughs on text.
Because there are no words
to give me what I’d like right now.
A hug, a hand held, a cheek pecked.

So there,
I don’t want to talk.
I don’t want to communicate.
Not with my words.
I am fed up of their inadequacy.
And I so desperately wish
you could kiss me
to shut me up right now,
and spare me the disappointment
of capturing this in words,
only to fail all over again.

Today

This morning, I roll over
out of bed,
dragging feet into a kitchen
to fix myself a cup of tea.

It’s early enough
to suck in fresh, cool air,
replacing the mentholated one
that I quit.

Grey speckled birds rustling leaves,
high above swept streets.
Coriander growing in the earthen pot,
threads of it tangling,
like my words when I try
to capture what you make of me.
You water, I twine.
Tendering in kind.

The roots don’t truly
feel like mine.

72 days

Of living in this new normal
Of sleeping with a racing heart,
difficult to quieten, to murmur to sleep.
Shhhh, I soothe, but…

It beats on, as time bleeds
like water on ink, sinking
into the pages of an empty calendar.
One day, two days, three days, four.
A week, a month…
and then one moment, I realised
I was not counting any more.

Counting days, nor goals,
nor things to look forward to.
How long until…? How long?
Hardly bearing this agony of waiting
for turbulences to smoothen.
Seeming so futile,
like smearing a crinkled sheet
trying to clean it of crevices.

I weep.

Weeping at the reality of screens
for work, for love, for everything in between.
My eyes are tired of the ‘almostness’
of granulated faces.
We must make do, at least we have these
pixels and echoes of sound
to convince ourselves we are not alone.
We must continue the grand deception,
for work, for love, for everything in between.

And in that between,
a despondence settling in.
Unpacking and unlayering itself
on my bedroom floor,
hanging in the air, wafting through the door.
How long are you visiting? How long?
Please leave. Go on…

I know not where it’ll go,
or who it’ll visit next ,
but I cannot entertain this guest.

A monthly mourning

Once a month, I get on a bus travelling
four hundred and eighteen kilometres,
to.

To cigarettes, coffee and sex in the morning
Sunlight filtering through orange curtains
Bike rides down empty streets
Hot and humid weather
Sunsets, beaches and unshakeable sand.
Sitting by windows, stealing wine drunk kisses
and tracing circles on the back of your hand.
Walking dirt paths to a hazy periwinkle view
To a reprieve from what I left,
to what’s been missing,
to you.

And then once a month, I get on a bus travelling
four hundred and eighteen kilometres,
away.

Only to do it all over again,
in another thirty days.

Each time, a mourning ritual.
A mourning for when things were simpler.
When there was no dread of missing you,
before I’ve even left.
When there was no counting of
how many hours we have left.

It is a loss meant to be mourned.
It must.
And mourned it is.
Each and every month.

Sixteen notes to self (in lockdown)

1. Get up earlier instead of right in time for your first zoom meeting/call for the day.

2. Shower when water is available. DO NOT PUT IT OFF. Or you’ll ruin your whole day, sitting cranky and feeling gross.

3. Move. Dance to music, walk, fold that pile of laundry, anything to get you moving.

4. Do NOT sit in bed all day and night. It gets old really fast and makes you feel miserable/sick. Sit up in that comfy chair in the corner instead.

5. Do something you like (apart from binge watching your three streaming services).

6. When being productive feels like too much, just do three things and call it a day. Any three things. Draft an email. Pay a bill. Write a report.

7. Spend some time away from screens. You’ll get sick of your devices.

8. Spend some time in silence. You don’t need constant background noise.

9. Keep track of the date and the day of the week. Don’t get lost in the seamless stream of time passing at home.

10. Fix yourself something comforting to eat. Make that egg and cheese sandwich. Cook the pasta al dente, simmer the sauce.

11. Breathe. 1,2,3,4…1,2,3,4…1,2,3,4….1,2,3,4…

12. Talk (so you can remember the sound of your voice, at least). Make the phone and video calls.

13. Play games. Things don’t have to be so dire and serious all the time.

14. Find the humour in your situation as if you’re in a sitcom. You don’t laugh because things are going well for the characters.

15. Engage your mind. There are so many things to soak in. Poetry. Art. Books. Reading material. Creating and learning is what makes you feel alive.

16. Whatever-it-is will pass.

Haunted

In 2004, my father died.

And Ottawa became a city of ghosts for me, full of empty pockets of memories tarred by loss. But if I thought it was the city that was haunted, I was sadly mistaken. I am the one who is haunted. By my father, by my old life, by the truth that life is nothing like what I had once imagined. No matter where I travel, run or hide these specters will follow and I have had to accept that they are constant companions. That’s the thing about sadness, it is selfish and will always need to be felt.

I remember the city of ghosts was once a beautiful place I called home and could not have fathomed leaving the way I did. I sat in the taxi and waited in the airport to board a flight and never come back and all the while it poured down, as if the city were weeping. I think it did for both of us.

Because once my father died, so too did the city. The ice-laden hills I once rode my toboggan down seemed colder and lonelier than before, Dow’s lake where we took paddle boat rides every summer became nothing but a reminder of a ship one man down.

Now there’s a ghost everywhere I go. Every milestone, every achievement is tainted bitter with the taste of emptiness…something or someone is always missing. Amid a sea of proud families at graduation, standing among fellow students donned in black robes signifying an accomplishment to take pride in, I could only see an empty seat in the audience, right next to my mother. I know she feels it too…but we never talk about it.

So today, I drink the poison his once dilapidated kidneys could never have filtered, never did. Suck in sickly sweet air from a cigarette with the same lips that said good night to him one last time.

Life goes on…

but it’s just not the same.

Carousels

To new beginnings in familiar places…what goes around comes around.

7th June, 2016: We wheeled ourselves into a haphazard circle on a sunny afternoon in the midst of reddish dirt and wisps of dried grass. The breeze swept carefully tucked hair and long dresses up ever so slightly, teasing us all, playful. We turned like a merry-go-round in third gear, a carousel of chit chat about us. There’s just something about small talk, especially when it no longer feels so small…

8th June, 2016: Old faces in new places have made me feel somewhat dizzy, a retrospect looming. I’m beginning  to feel like the world is a little pocket, occasionally stuffed with the old acquaintance or childhood friend who once played pretend with me, scribbling with crayons just outside the box. Coincidences are funny and it’s quite a jest to welcome, even if it’s met with some old-fashioned and long learned apprehension.

9th June, 2016: An unconventional end befell my collection of books stored away in boxes 575 kilometers away, in the form of insects with an unfortunate appetite for moist pages…dampened by the careless faucet left leaking in the upstairs flat,water dripping its way down the cracked cement. Sometimes it’s better to forget rather than be maudlin and so I’ve taken to technology for my reading, an artifice in its screen and font adjustments, replacing the paperbacks and hardcovers. Although it warmed up to me, I think I like to romanticize the past and the people boxed away in it, love them as I do.

10th June, 2016: The sound of clanging forks and chit chat is the perfect backdrop for a bit of light reading, as a cup of tea sits upon the table. The breeze is dotted with drizzle as the finished paper cup threatens to totter over just shy of the large windows. Perfect weather can make for less of a dull time, ticking away in an otherwise unoccupied hour here and now. A recipe for renewal.

11th June, 2016: Thumbing pages of books and notepads has become second nature, a tell tale sign of my mind wandering. A friend asked me if it calmed me down but quite the contrary, I think it makes me feel all the more elated, alive with ideas and quaint possibilities.