When he tells me he loves me,
he has Kleenex sticking from one nostril
for the nosebleed, and I’m pushing raw meat
to his blackened eye. He gasps the words
from between bruised ribs, whimpering
with a split lip, chipped tooth. I’m wondering
why he waited, and why he thinks it matters now,
now that it’s been a year at least
since we both fell in love
with that bright-eyed bohemian girl
in Spain, who took a photo for us
when we asked, then stayed the night
and ran off with him in the morning.
I don’t even remember her name.
And I’m not about to ask what happened
to her, won’t ask who busted him up like this,
whose honour he was defending, or where
he’s been for all this time. Instead I say
come in and of course you can stay, I’ll bring
Band-Aids and beer and we’ll catch up,
talk about Spain and those good old days
as though nothing strange ever happened.
And he tells me I’m so good to him, too kind,
and he doesn’t deserve a friend like me. But
I’m not being kind, after all. Just patient. This
pity is a quiet revenge, the perfect payback,
and we both know it. For once we have something
urgent to share, something about heartbreak,
half-truths, and the sick vitality of obsession.
And when silence presses sharp angles into us
again, we’ll know how to push right back
with both hands.
Sometimes I Find Myself
as an edge, with
the teeth of a wolf.
I find myself
as a Victorian portrait
or in a map ripped
from an ancient book –
sometimes I find myself
singing along a crowded street
or muttering here
into an empty room.
I find myself naked
at a tall window
the moon –
otherwise I find myself
in the curve of the kettle
or as a greasy spoon,
or in tealeaves
at the bottom of the cup
full of holes. I find
as an overturned bowl,
I find myself drunk
and walking home alone.
I’m holding a jar of beach glass,
a rare feather
and a pocketful of stones.
These moments I find myself
into a fragment of bone
torn from the body
of a wild creature –
sometimes the wolf’s,
Emily is a graduate student at McGill University in Montréal, Canada. Recent or forthcoming poetry publications include The Claremont Review, Shorthand (via Toronto’s Diaspora Dialogues), Carte Blanche (via the Québec Writers’ Federation), Voices (through the University of Toronto), Black Heart Magazine, FringeLIT, StepAway Magazine, and ditch,. She has also collaborated with McGill’s “Poetry in Performance” project, and is a recent fellowship recipient for the Summer Literary Seminars International 2012.