one-hundred-sixty-one.

wise:
not for the letters at the end of your name,
but for the self-reflection and questions:
“why does this experience cause me _____?”

blame. shame. pain. gain.

one-hundred-sixty.

a long drive
way into the trees,
so high the sky
is barely visible
until the break in between.
the stream trickling
under the paved bridge
to an open body of aqua,
turquoise-green,
fresh, rocky water.
a quick glimpse of the scene
before you speed by
and the forest looks like a blurry photo,
again.
not enough time to check if the
river was running dry,
but enough to recognize
it was flowing fine.
at first glance.
at first probe.
at first inquisition.

the passenger’s seat.

one-hundred-fifty-eight.

that sound is either
the wind gushing between glass panelling,
or a truck whizzing on the highway.
each possible when living 10 floors
up in the sky.

though, when that one robin grips
onto the balcony,
tweeting without limit,
and the spiderwebs bloom
from unit to unit,
it’s impossible to misinterpret
that the season is changing.

the sun will stay a little longer and,
the afternoons in the warm living room,
with the walls tinted yellow,
will become evenings.
mid-mornings by the window,
will be become wake up calls.

i don’t know what i’d do without
seasonal reminders
that something better –
as comforting as houseplants kissing
sunny floor corners –
is never that far away.

one-hundred-fifty-five.

how do you become confident in a name?
one you were assigned at birth?
how do you allow it to roll off your tongue,
without the fear of how others
will automatically perceive you?

tell me.
i don’t know what that’s like.

one-hundred-fifty-one.

untouched and stale,
crusty and undesirable.
hard pink icing
bulking,
on chalky chocolate-chips.

cream cheese filling, once gooey,
a bold, cold contrast,
now smushed like the
moody clementine peel
renting the space
at the bottom of your bag.

this is what you sound and feel like,
when you don’t invest in
connection, representation.
an unwanted, deserted cake.
a slab of dry, choking dough.
a wall of rotting egg yolks.

you had the potential to empower,
until you let it slip:
you prefer titles and looks,
like sprinkles and candles,
over impact.

you prefer the sound of your voice,
like a singing, cringing hallmark card,
over growth and working smart.

still, even though you’re deep,
in the shallow cardboard box,
opened by colleagues just curious
enough to see what you are,
you’re a mockery of a treat,
and yet the system says
you’ll forever make more than me.

gender pay gap.

one-hundred-forty-nine.

the only thing missing in this neighbourhood
is a thrift store;
a collection of goods and clothes and stories
from lives before today’s.
the smell of vintage perfume
and baby powder fabric softener –
like the scents in an old blanket
soaked in the thread from the love
of its previous cuddler.
cleaned for years with white vinegar,
lavender extract.
now on a rack for sale
to start another chapter,
to kick off round two.

bloor west village.

one-hundred-forty-eight.

crunchy steps up a hill,
a partly snowy sidewalk.
no headphones today,
enjoying the sounds of the stray bird,
the feeling of flurries beneath my feet.
in between the shade and light,
like window blinds.

a change of scenery. a january afternoon.

one-hundred-forty-five.

“on which nights are you restless,
tuned into every toc of the clock
and every scratch of the cat?”

well, on the nights my eyes are closed,
but i can see through the lids
and listen to every crack and creek.
well, on the nights when i can feel
the draft from the vent
like waves from the sea.
well, on the nights when i am laying,
but my brain is moving
on its own two feet.