everything is a strange, slow magic. in the afternoon i sit cross-legged in my underwear on a futon that isn't mine shovelling green curry into my mouth, the rain pouring outside my cracked window, slowdive playing off my computer, hair in a knot on my head, the dharma bums open and waiting for a careful, kind fingertip to run its creased corners. i hear sirens and children yelling, cursing and stomping in the rain, and i fall into a dazed, feverish sleep and wake up with the sun melting all over my shoulders, honey and syrup, sweetness and sweat. there is so much silence. it is the first of july. the summer splits open like an overripe plum and still i am hurt, i feel my blood rise, i feel the nectar pour down my throat, and i am getting there but i am still not okay.
i close my eyes and i'm doing 140 on highway 420, skirting through niagara and missing my exit ramp. it is dark and we run the backroads listening to country and contemplating how low the sky seems, how it's right there, you could stand up and touch it, its ceiling a heavy cloth. i walk with my shoes on through decew falls and the opaque green water gathers around my thighs, lapping and kissing; we drink beer while wading under dappled light and we drink beer in plain sight at the welland canal and we drink beer at a bar with gold furniture and teal walls and only one option on tap. "it feels like motor oil going in, feels like motor oil coming out." the bartender sneers and smiles and i am wrapped up in a suspended, unreal night. the sky flickers with fireworks and smoke. navigating crowds feels uneasy and reckless and we run through american traffic while sparks lose their shape all around us. my stomach catches in my throat. we drink coffee at a long-bar diner and i cannot eat. the humidity swirls on the smoking patio at the casino and we carry it around with us; it creeps into bed while i'm sleeping with the fan droning on and the windows down and i stay awake forever facing walls that aren't mine, wishing for patience, wishing for mercy, wishing for strength. the "almost," the "closer," and the thirst: it is unbearable. over a small number of moments i watch hops climb brown twine into the ether of summer. i want to want this to be good; it would be so easy for it to be good. but i am out of fuel. i drive away for the last time with my few possessions strewn on the floor of the car and all around me: water, floods, change. inside of me: water, floods, change.
we meet to talk about our space, our low-silled, clean apartment. all of the plants are dead. the lawn is overgrown and i keep forgetting we must tend to these things. i feel dehydrated and drunk, and both of these things are true. it hurts to breathe. there is so much unknowable in someone you know so fully. there is so much home you lose when you leave the person who is your home. outside i am even-keeled and steady with speech while inside i am burning. i taste bismuth and shame and i close my eyes to the street. in the air hangs pollen, milkweed, the absence of touch. it is like molten iron. i gather some of my things. there is finality in every time i leave, more and more, and it piles up until it is immovable, the finality, and here we are again. we are hanging onto the threads of spring as we weave the nights into the relay of summer. the hiss and the click and the whirr. we step onto the porch and the birds are gone. we step onto the porch and it could be any night. but there is a cat on the lawn, unmoving and matted. she is covered in flies. i touch her and she looks at me and screams and cries and it seems she is giving birth, here, now, on the neglected lawn in the late afternoon, and it is primal and it is terrifying and we don't know what to do.
we walk near the river on the solstice and i point out the few plants i know; this is a language where i can communicate with grand, sweeping phrases and little else. it is the only true language that i have to offer, and i do not know most of the words. we are drowning in languages and none of them are mine. i am clumsy. still, we have hand gestures (mine are shaking and i am unsure) and earnest faces (of course). st. john's wort, catnip, comfrey, strawberry, black-raspberry, nettle. we find hogweed and marvel at the size, the power: that you could touch something from nature and come back mortally burned. i honour this thought but it does not surprise me; this is something that i also do. we skip stones near st. jacobs and carve careful, meandering arcs through the waist-high grass, the wind peppery and smooth, mud rubbed against my ankles, the river asking shy questions, the ever-dazzling light. downtown the roads are still ripped up. i leave an unfinished can of coors banquet on the windowsill of the cab company and run into the night. the rain comes and does not leave us. it is easy. the storms are cairns through a sacred place. the storms fill me with clarity. how did i not see this before? i am terrified; i am vulnerable. i shake the trunks of mock-orange trees and fill the air with false snow. at the flats the water is warm and we flirt with the seaweed as the sun leaves us paralyzed with wanting. i feel recklessness in the still too-short evenings and i want to sleep it off. (i want to stay awake forever.) i will rise to meet this. there are good things held without bail, and so they are truly good. there are not enough days. we hop graves in mount hope and still the morning promises to arrive. this is okay: there is this morning, and then the next, and then the next, and then...
i sit on the stoop of the abandoned upholstering building and drink espresso from a paper cup. its sunday and it's so early; there are no cars. i scuff dust at the construction site and squint confusedly at the too-blue sky. my stomach settles. i smoke clove cigarettes on the fire escape at my old work and i flick ashes into the garden. the humidity remains. i walk through my old neighbourhood and lose myself, reach my fingers into the centres of peonies, crush clover in my palms. there is so much sweetness in a solitude carved out of honesty; i am starting to learn where to find it. hours disappear and i do not speak. i stare at myself in the rearview mirror as i drive directly into the sun. i let the radio jump channels. the world expands before me in amber and gold.