Fuck this. The whipping tongues of infatuation twine with barbed-wire anxiety and I am hung by the skin of my elbows. Desire becomes anger in the crinkling of a nose. And you you you are not what you seem. And this. Fuck this. All metal and noise racing down my hair past my face. The spun-silk bars of cages we weep against with joy. And comfort. Rebellion will be placated. Rage will never be what is supposed to come. They will trickle and knock pipes against walls at inconvenient hours of the day. The noise and bluster of sneering regret. I hate it all. But not enough. To throw away what doesn’t matter. Scrape my heels for the rest.
These are never true: the claims of crimes we would never complete. We are less/more than that. Incapable of the self-awareness that would allow false statements to dissolve. Look at all the convolutions of the brain. Economy of surface area. Accordioned and twisted. Like everything contained within. The deep, laughterless hilarity of a cosmic joke.
So when I say I would never, I don’t ever, the smug horror is evident. The mirror of language distorts my waist wide and my face tall. The hypocrisy is both conscionable and inevitable. This silence, within which I bide and abide, is a form of delusion. I wait for my turn to speak, knowing I will never hear above the bluster of voice curving across the continents.
I sit in a hotel. In Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. A frontier of sorts. An edge to something, though I haven’t discovered what yet. A hub, perhaps. I arrived in darkness. December, north of 60, couldn’t be elsewise. But something about this darkness is thrilling. I am in the centre, and this city is so quiet. The hush and hug of these particular mountains squeeze me into less silent shapes. So now I want to talk. I want to tell you everything. Who I am, why I’m here (even though you will always look confused when I try to explain), why the intangible pieces of me are fluttering through my skin.
I think it started with the unlikely chickadee that perched on the suspended TV screen at Gate 18 and warbled and chirped to itself. I watched it, wondering where it came in, where it would go, whether it felt lost and alone or just alone. I don’t know what chickadees do when they’re alone.
From then, I wanted to be open in some way. To connect excitement with words in intricate patterns across two minds. And so, I declined the solitary cab and hopped on a hotel shuttle. Rewarded with a woman from Argentina, in Canada on a post-secondary student exchange, and determined to see as much of Canada as budget would allow before going home. She has never seen the northern lights, and so the clouds will clear one night for her. She said. And I hope. When we reached my hotel, we were the only two passengers left. She sent me air kisses, and we wished each other northern adventure.
I’m unafraid of this town. Though clearly, I’m not from around these parts. They can tell. I am quiet and I read The English Patient over my hotel bar & grill supper. I order lemon tea, and I am far away from whatever I didn’t want to talk about. I contemplate conversations with strangers, but rarely lift my eyes from the page.
If we listen closely, we remember to hear mortality with something other than fear. Not eagerness. Something less than reluctance. The point closer to exhaustion when we simply put down our lives and settle into whatever comes next. Nothing. Eternity. Whatever we believe to be behind our eyes and deep within our ears. Filling our stomachs and tucked beneath our spleens. With something more than scraps of music we’ve forgotten all the words to.
I watch this process. Impartial, impersonal, implacable. March through lives and lives again. I’m not the first to watch this. I’m not watching for the first time. I’m not watching alone. But we’re all staring in different directions and fighting the oblique angles of ourselves.
At the end of all years, I will claim these for my soul: Guitar strings. Wine saturating the tongue with oak and fruit. Leisurely sunrises at the 53rd parallel in mid-winter. My voice, shaded and shaken with too many years. Old stories recovered in threadbare patterns of narrative.