Today a new poll: Vancouver is the least happy city in Canada!
In The Book I learn to “Crack the Crying Code” until I am late
for my Kitsilano dinner date with your mother. The steeple
at 8th and Maple is lined with long thin spears
so the seagull has nowhere to stand but atop the cross.
“I’m hungry” is low and weak. “I’m sick” is sudden, panicked and long.
At 6th, the stretch where CP Rail tore up community gardens
to survey, a few tulips climbing up around the tracks nonetheless.
“I’m bored” starts as coos then turns to fussing. At 4th,
the Mexican place filled with families overpaying for the early meal.
At 2nd, a tiny apartment we once balked at and a woman
in a tube dress hanging her bird feeder.
Some nights, the window newly reopened, I wake
to a woman’s heels against sidewalk four stories below
and am not sure if the sound is coming from inside me
until it’s grown loud and then faded back out of range.
At York, rhododendrons. At Creelman, lilies and a man
in a yellow shirt smoking. Seismologists say 13,000 will die
in the earthquake they’re certain will break in your lifetime.
At Whyte, remnants of a garage sale in a cardboard box marked “Free”.
There’s a whole section in the back of The Book about injuries.
If we sever your arm I’m to control the bleeding, clean the wound
and apply pressure. I’m to loosen your clothing in case you’re in shock.
I’m to wrap the arm in a cloth and pack it in ice.
“I’m uncomfortable” is whiny, nasal and continuous. “I’m in pain”
is loud and panicked, and persists until the baby is breathless.
I apologise, your mother hands me a sandwich. I sit
on the blanket she packed before leaving for work.
We strategize, then sleep with our heads on each other’s knees,
you between us in the sand, until we wake to the cool of the sun
spilling into the ocean and the clicks of tourists’ cameras, seemingly
everywhere. For some people, you see, the sun goes other places.
First published in The Maynard (Fall 2015).