civic holiday

it's the civic holiday in chippawa; we drink beer and scream radio rock from fifteen years ago. we float down the creek on a dubious inflatable raft, screams and whoops ricocheting off the night. the sunset fractures the sky, pink-gold and unyielding, seemingly just for us. i am alight. everything is messy. i hold the idea of happiness on my tongue, a sweetness that extends behind the back of my jaw; it seems rare and confusing to grasp such a thing in southern ontario. i consider my guilt: a small, hard stone. it is heavy and smooth and sits behind my sternum, cold. i consider my shame: a twist in my guts that i'm unsure how to reconcile. my body is wrecked with these thing but i try to move forward despite them. i consider momentum. i consider mercy. i consider that i might deserve goodness and but i don't want to cry on this raft in the welland river so i stop and stare into the fragility of the night. the air chills as the light dies and we float further into the depths of august. 

all above us there are swallows, hundreds of darting arrows bisecting and dividing the slow-burn of the languid sunset. they chirp and sing and swarm and turn into smoke, the illusion of summer as the celestial test, a projection of chaotic order and calm. the moon is almost full, orange and mocking. i still want to cry--the feeling is so close--and i almost want to name shakiness as happiness but i'm afraid (i'm so afraid) so i yell until i lose my voice. everything remains.

we reach the bridge near where our car is parked and stumble out of the raft covered in goosebumps and shivering. cam and i walk barefoot to the centre of the bridge and climb over the guardrail, stand together on a small outcrop of concrete and steel as amy and marcus follow close behind. the sun is gone and the water is endlessly black. everywhere: the wind and the swallows. the summer is here and good. i look out over the river and everything still remains and we join hands and leap into the air.


it’s 7:30 on a brimming, boiling tuesday evening and the sun is benevolent and my window is wide. the evening is tossing light through the gingko and maple and the shadows are making pilgrimage across my walls, dipping and diving, crossing one another in the lovely, layered waltz of restless summer. i am cross-legged and mosquito-bitten, my glands swollen and my cuticles cracked. i sit on the futon surrounded by piles of my possessions, the small stacks of belongings i have brought with me from my former life. everything is a mess, clothing strewn over the wood floor, socks flung into the far corners, climbing gear and rope tied into impossible knots and snarls.

i have strep throat and my thighs are covered in bruises. i listen to construction trucks reversing in the clamour of the evening and i try to drown out the repetitive sound with nailbiting and white noise and songs from highschool. i feel fine and then the dying hours contract around me and i feel as if the world iscrumbling, that it is coming down upon me in torrential sheets and storms. my stomach climbs into my mouth. i feel fever wash over me with uneasy gentleness and i am afraid. i am so afraid.

it wasn’t supposed to be like this. i wasn’t supposed to be wrecked with infection, curled knees-to-chest on messy blankets in a bedroom that isn’t mine. i wasn’t supposed to be writing notes to myself to remember to eat, setting alarms in my phone to remember to brush my teeth. i wasn’t supposed to be crying on the concrete outside the walk-in clinic, forgetting to bring my keys, yelling in the shower when it’s early and no one’s awake. i wasn’t supposed to be inside of the panic, running my hands along shadowed walls, trying to press the fluttering reflections of gingko and maple onto my sweating skin. i can’t place where i’m supposed to be. the air is immovable and carries dust and diesel and fear. 

the room isn’t mine. the bed isn’t mine. the shirt isn’t mine. the day isn’t mine.

my fever will rise and the day will disintegrate and eventually both will break.