Forehead smooth as bone china,
you are the witness, clinging
to opinion as though it were fact,
convinced of your own divinity.
Your voice reverberates against empty streets.
Streetlights pick up the tune, turning
like tuning forks, the hum barreling
along telephone wires and out
the open mouths at the end of each line.
You’re the message that lands like a bull
whip, the mother and the martyr, the city
wavering for one staticky instant
before collapsing on itself, rubble
rebounding into rebirth.
I have seen the sun set over the ocean,
the freeway. I have seen the sun set
over gangplanks while toeing my way along.
I have toed the line, stepped over,
fallen over. I have woken up singing, sighing.
I have screamed at you for things that were not
your fault and things that are. I have let the seatbelt’s
steady hand hold me in one place for years
too long. I have unbuckled too quickly. I have given up.
Given in. Grieved for what I don’t miss. I have missed
you: and you, and you. I have held my breath. Exhaled
and found myself in a strange room filled with strange
words and strange pictures. I have lost heirlooms.
I have woven new ones. I have overused, underused.
I am a fallen tree limb caught in the arms of
another, still-attached limb. I am a chainsaw
to a tree’s heart, cutting deeper round by round,
laying bare every last goddamn scar.
Leigh Nash is the author of Goodbye, Ukulele (Mansfield Press, 2010). She is the publisher of Invisible Publishing, co-curates The Emergency Response Unit, and lives in Picton, Ont.