It’s my homage, not yours. My flint, or my sour brine. If I opt for
guiled hatred it’s my own fatal blow, and of course I flaunt it as it
squirms. Or I trace the frame of it, but it never stays for long. When
there’s nothing left, I reverse down the alley throwing garbage out
Unless my dreams are scant or shapeless I don’t need to be
astonished. I’ll think of them in softer lines. I cling to the contour, I
want to be named. I want it to make sense, or at least I want to write
it down. I need a language like atoms, so I’ll make one.
The day pulls back and girds its ankles. The day now trembling and
on fire. The day wishing to be sanctified but no one knowing how. I
waded in the shallow pond but the pond was full of pond scum and
the pond was just a storm drain. It said to say thank you or it said to
trust no bitch. I peered down from above toying how to make it stay
in place. How the lake could whistle still and streets so toothy when
they eat. So beautiful a day, such bright and lovely light. Such a
shame I’m stuck up here thinking about shapes.
Instead of dredging my hands in the pool of cement, I ask to be here.
Instead of form, I ask for one piece. I claim my row, my house, my
brick of soap. My relentless clot of words. I didn’t want to but it
shimmered as we spoke. I’ve never said too much, instead I’ll say
Of several things that linger: these lilies I picked you for breakfast
or the yellow car you parked outside? I really need a car this year,
you said. I really need a drink, I said. I really need a pool. Here are
whole flimsy files, I grind them to dust. I’ll delete your maiden
name. But first I’m so thirsty. I can almost see the water but for your
illicit flash. A yellow flag and a guard who never laughs. Where is
there to go but further in?
My intent was to be left alone. My intent was a slow slouching gait:
thoughtful, with the cadence of pins. It would rain or it wouldn’t. I
sloughed my skin against the fence unsure of where the horns were
coming from. You were somewhere in the background. Of course I
can’t remember now.
I thought there’d be more curves here. I thought I’d never tire of
facsimiles and riverbanks. A few I drew a picture of: a soft white
sheet, a sagging shelf, the same yellow buds once and once again.
Plus the cratered floors and rows of empty beer cans. We throw them
from the balcony when we’ve got time to spare.
In the hallway, a red runner and a shallow bowl of milk. I lap it up
a little at a time, hopping from cobbled street to chrysalis. I wrapped
you up in yellow silk and tied it with some kitchen twine. Yellow, I
said aloud. I felt better after that. I scaled the ceiling with my dirty
feet and fingertips, and afterward it didn’t look so good. You were
begging me to stop, but I knew the steps I always did and the horns
were getting louder. Yellow, I said aloud. I felt better after that.
The yellow lines are tidal pools today. I am making things up, but
of course I needed something to believe in. Of course I want to jump
or sing. Sometimes I think I know the way, sometimes I think I’m
here. Only sometimes I want kindness, but I always want to hold
To drop things, squeeze them dry and leave the bodies on the
ground. A starfish, a sea snail, a rotting brown peach. I am so
grateful, I keep saying, feigning several things at once. The bodies
staring back. The painting staring back. Feigning love for my tight
spine, my tongue, my teeth, my tides. Feigning love to watch the
yellow lines, attending meetings as arranged.
The day slips through rigid teeth, plus here’s my skin not knowing
how to move. Both are saying, there is nothing here for u. Only one
miraculous. The day runs no lines, slips, nothing leaves until it’s
done, it says, so what about my longing? You shouldn’t move your
mouth like that. Instead, recite the steel of it. You should dance but
don’t settle for just doing it. You should want to dance too.
I am waiting for the inventory slip. I am waiting for a bower to
emerge. I am waiting for the collapse of silence or of sound I am not
performing, now. I said what I meant, or I didn’t but I didn’t want
to. Now I have seen the coast I can’t close my eyes or blink even.
Cecilia Stuart’s work has been published in PRISM international, the Antigonish Review, the Temz Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook Mudroom (a collaborative work with photography by Adrian Kiva) was published by Anchorage Press in 2018. She is based in Toronto and recently she has been trying to dance every day.