When we are saying goodbye and I see you reel in the conversation like fishing line I think, ‘Oh. You’re good at this.’ Because I never thought of endings as a skill set. And when your edges start to show it’s not that they aren’t beautiful, I just never thought to expect they would be that hard. And when you notch off our every in-joke for some courteous to-do list, I realize how different we are: you travel an arms length away from the world and I roll around wearing three layers less skin than everyone. If colour behaved like stimulus I would be a Kandinsky painting taking a shower in the park. I am naked, and the problem is I can’t turn around. Everytime a Jackson Pollock comes into view, ten minutes later I’m knee deep in the sharpest consonants you can think of.
And when you leave and I can’t feel anything, I wonder what happens when you absorb one too many Pollocks. If you can become the inverse of what you started out as, and the opposite of everything you hoped to become: a broken kaleidoscope unable to absorb anything because you’re already too full of everything that already was. And watch yourself, those edges are hard.
And I wonder if that’s what has to happen in order to live an arms length away from the world, to be in control of all the colours that seep into you, tidy, sharp. And I think of all the people that find their outlines and slide into them with certainty, worlds building up around them because they are sure. And I can hear my grade twelve teacher saying, ‘A lot of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage,’ and I fear that she is right, that it is the sliding that gives me oxygen and the construction that makes me nervous, this building of worlds.
But she was not there on that day when the first poem came to get me, when I was walking through the woods and it just fell out. Or when I was in awe of the hand the pen the paper that came together speaking some sort of language amongst themselves they had been waiting to use, conspiring to bring me into this. And how I was caught, from that first day tumbled headlong into the inky skin of it, how I have travelled for these words strung together, courted phrases like ribbons just to tie them, I have woven, I have gathered, I have steeped.
And if she could see that she would understand that it is not fear that holds me back from their world, it is disinterest. That I do not want to live in a world full of taxes and recycling and opened mail, and if I have to then I will do so badly, on purpose, and quietly hold onto myself. Because that is not the definition of a sale, you cannot be sold into a world that you do not want to live in. I will live here, with the words, with the cadences that sing me awake and send me into evening. The world is full of them and I live there all of the time, whenever they will let me. And I am like my students hiding ipods and cell phones in their desks, except that I am hiding all of the time, when I am listening speaking working breathing I am always there, and if I have to be what they do not understand in order to do this then I can do that, that is not a sacrifice, that is the cost of admission.
And I think about all the places I have been to just for leaving and wonder if I built them out of need or if they were always there, waiting for me. If they peered into my crib and whispered, ‘Slow down. Pay attention.’ And I did.
- Canada Day Slam