To be so connected
and now be cut off – It makes me feel hollow emptied out so very alone. I don’t like to touch but I need a presence by me, the pull of some soul’s gravity to remember how to stand. Wild horses I don’t know where you are right now. Caught up somewhere while I wait here. Out in the mountains with the wild horses perhaps, wide open skies and white snow-covered lands as a buffer between you and the world. Or maybe you are closer than I expect, a shelter-in-place somewhere in the south. Wrangler on the off season. It is only April. It’s not right for me to ask. A pandemic is not reason to call lost loves with my heart on my cheeks, offered in every smile, desperate in every laugh. I never met your mother, but I bet she hates the goodbyes as much I do. With you, one can never know how long they might mean. I always tried to be like your aunt, like the ocean: leaving the porch light on every night in case you turned up, pulling back but always returning to you with new treasures in my hands, never asking you to stay another day if you said had to leave. What I would give to be driving northern roads with you. Glowing eyes staring back at us around the turns, as the deer, the moose, and the wolves faced your headlights full on. They probably heard it on the wind: the mountain boy found himself a partner at last. I tried to stay on the charted areas of the map. Never say love. Never ever say love. But maybe if I memorized the code of your barcode eyebrows, I would always be able to find you amidst the crowd. If anyone would know how to exist in solitude, it’s you. Months of the year spent crisscrossing mountain passes and fording rivers. A line of horses strung out behind you, and maybe another person or two. It was August when you called me with your satellite phone, Unknown Number flashing in my hand. Asking question after question with a smile in your voice. The last time I saw you your hair was shaggy, so long it covered your eyebrows. I couldn’t read you anymore. Late Summer To be sure, green clusters of luck on the roadside do not make all of life, but they do make moments, and watching you run towards me with your eyes shining and your hands full of bounty is more than my heart can hold. Mom, Mom, I found a four-leaf clover! Clover is softer than grass it doesn’t tickle or scratch, rather it just holds my limbs softly, somewhere between freefall and rest. It covers the land like a blanket, weaving secrets close to the ground, holding in moisture for the dry afternoons. Purple and white flowers like feather dusters in late summer. While the days grow shorter and the melancholy rises up from our stomachs – nostalgia for what we haven’t lost yet, but we know we will. In January we all fall to pieces our eyes dry while they plead do you hear me? our hearts choke us out while they gasp hold me to the next fool we pass on the street. What You See He was bent, gnarled fingers wrapped round walker handles. He moved so slowly rooted to the ground, his feet sliding forward one by one. His skin dark and weathered, deep grooves along his cheeks, rough as bark. Despite this age, years piled upon him, etching their memory through his center, whorling outwards in spirals (what you see is only a fraction of the story) – despite all of this, he was not frail. Strength emanated from him: deep patience and sharp eyes. The lift of his chin said, I have seen the world. I have stood while the ground shook, I have loved and I have lost, and I survived it all. He spent the day along the path, inching forward. The chickadees came and danced about his head, rested for moment in his thicket of hair, sang him the songs he already knew by heart. Chaos If this is how it goes: from brother to lover from sister to mother, then what other order can be found in chaos or what chaos from order? In first year fine arts I had a prof with wild hair who specialized in the bizarre. One day he played us noise, and explained how out of a jumble of sound a note can be extracted – that chaos lends itself to order, just look at our world: a soup by chance to an ecosystem. But today, as I watch white men storm the capital, while yesterday women of colour were handcuffed while they sang, I do wonder. Hope, Please And in all of this we stand. Or we crawl. We kneel. In all of this we keep breathing. There is pain leaking out of all the corners of the world. In the light and in the darkness we are all disfigured. We all crumble. All the broken pieces of the bodies shattered and shocked. The souls twisted, some from greed, some from neglect, some wrung out in the name of love. How shall we hope for ourselves? How can we hope for the world? When countries light up and burn and we lay in bed, too heavy to sit up and start another dim morning. Preparation Curls slide through my hands rough edges, smooth undersides. Scraps slide into the compost, wet globes fall into the pot. It’s steady work, my fingers starting to prune from the moisture, my lower back twinging from leaning over for so long. It’s only you and I in the kitchen, sitting across from each other, the potato pot between us, the peelings gathering around our feet. We keep laughing, so hard I tear up, so hard I can’t even see my dang potato anymore. Is this love I wonder? Peeling potatoes in the afternoon while the sun sinks lower in the sky, and the mothers spin wool into yarn, and the fathers pace their fields, and the children start the long run home for dinner? Laszlo Late starter with the kind eyes smooth skull and a boa in a glass cage you call Ondine, the temptress of the sea. you do not sleep forget to eat wander the streets at night listening for music How I wish I could love you. Instead, I hold your shoulders, your eyes but never your hand for I am not your girl but oh, I like to watch your hands dance across piano keys. you are lovely when you play you know you are lovely when you play. you can disappear and let the music speak a while It’s too bad it’s words I feed on. See You Inroads and under stars between waves and above clouds All the places we cannot reach fill the gaps when we cannot speak. Silence pours out of my mouth when I want to laugh. My hands grow thistles if we ever touch, and you draw away. Well water, ocean spray, piss one and drink the other, and still I’m in the wrong and your back is all I see. Tide lines and marsh flats, skulls stacked, paving stones The storm clouds gather and the goodbye chokes in my throat. How do I offer my all, and still have enough to breathe with? You come out in just a towel as I leave, so I do not hug you, just say see you with my eyes on yours. Calculations prove me wrong over and over and under. I always wake up upside down Bio: Reba Kingston is a writer and wildland firefighter. Her work has appeared in The New Quarterly and has been shortlisted for the Malahat Review’s Constance Rooke CNF Prize. She is currently writing from unceded Sinixt, Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, and Syilx territories in Revelstoke, BC.