Refocus on the Oxygen

He looked a little dead inside
With his eyes glazed, forward
Staring, searching
For himself. I found
Myself tilting my head as I looked
At him looking
At the air between us.

/michal

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How Time Exists and Moves and Elopes

Do you feel what everybody feels?
Or are you alone, your soul wandering,
A mended body
Flowing
Beating
Something inside, like a heart
(Or a fist)
Signalling a life
(Or a suffering)
Perhaps both.

Yet you step forward each moment
Into the forgiving future
That allows you to be whole
If you wish
And healed
If you try
And yourself
If you dare

/michal

Uncovering / Recovering

I have filled myself with others’ stories.
Stories to avoid my own.
Stories to carry,
to ponder,
to listen to on repeat in my own head late at night,
when I am forgetting to be writing my own.

Stories of pain
and difficulty and happiness and
memories, felt or lost or forgotten
until they are told out loud.

I have been overflowing with other selves
I absorbed, mistakenly
trying to fit them into my own concave interior,
a container to be filled and shipped
somewhere far. I yearn to lock
and steal these stories inside of me,
take them to a new place where I might bury them,
and as I dig their grave, in the soil I find
myself, waiting to be lifted out and taken home.

/michal

Self-Diagnosing the Human Condition

I took my pulse
To my childhood home
To expose it to old smells.

I breathed into the spirometer
Checking for my capacity
To contain the world inside.

I left your thermometer of happiness
Under my tongue for too long:
It has dissolved
And the mercury is leaking.
I guess I’ll never know how
Exactly
I am doing.

I took an oral history
By talking to myself
And clarifying the words that I didn’t
Quite catch.
Could I repeat that last part?
Hmm.
And how long has this been going on?

I tried to measure myself
To know who I am,
To have a language to express it to others.
But the numbers have failed me
And I am left with broken instruments
And healing bones.

/michal

Part 3 of 3: Learning to Heal

Of course I am spinning around
still
in my own little circle, but why
can’t I stop?

I can’t see
the world around me.
It does not keep up with my speed
Like my hands
Which I see clearly (spinning with me).
But the world, a blur.

Let me slow down
And see my reflection
And breathe in sync with her lungs.

I had a small doll once
(With silvery blue hair)
And her hands were sewn together
To make a loop for her knees
To tuck into.
She would sit there and hug herself
And that is all she did.

/michal

New Knowledge

Who knew
That the first time you tell a man you love him
Is after you have broken up with him
And you’re just trying to be honest

Who knew
That you could be in love and unhappy
And have to choose
Which one matters more

/michal

Occupying Space

Some people you only meet in libraries. Where the bookshelves protect you and connect you and line the outside borders of your relationship. You represent to each other the transformation that overcomes you when you are there. They are your partners in this endeavour of thought. They are your only constant in the inevitable alterations that shape you forcefully, lovingly, and continuously.

He sits quietly, with both hands holding his phone, a slight hump for a back and agitated feet. By looking at him, you might think he is waiting for some important news through the phone. But he is just lonely, sitting with virtual images filling him with emptiness. Across the study table is a girl with an empty cup of Earl Grey tea who seems to be taking up more space than she feels is appropriate. She channels her discomfort with herself into the dispersed notes, textbook, lab manual, and laptop that occupy a carefully studious radius around her.

She bobs her head to music as she types up her anatomy notes. He notices her ring.

He comments, it looks like a neuron.

Oh, this? she says, it’s a starfish!

Interesting. He sees it now.

That’s not a neuron, he says.

She smiles without any further thoughts to express. He thinks he looks stupid and uneducated. Of course that’s a starfish, why wouldn’t it be?

The guy wears a Blue Jays baseball cap backwards over his long combed-back hair. He has an extra-large coffee cup and a laptop out on the table. Not so much space occupied, despite the huge cup. He looks like the type of guy she would expect to meet at some bar downtown, who flirts with you but doesn’t mean it. He looks like he’s wasting his time and money going to university. She’s trying to become less judgmental but she can’t help her disapproval.

What are you studying? he asks her quietly.

Anatomy. I have an exam in two days. She replies.

He doesn’t know anything about anatomy, which he involuntarily admitted in the first conversation. She won’t even talk to me, he thinks as she whispers back, you?

I’m working on a philosophy paper. He smiles sheepishly and looks down at his coffee.

Oh, what kind of philosophy? She’s intrigued.

This essay is on the ethics of euthanasia. I’m just trying to figure out how I feel about it.

Huh, I love that. Feelings have never been relevant to any of my courses. But they can provide so much insight into your thoughts… I’m Caroline, by the way.

I’m Jordan. Nice to meet you.

––

She waves to him as she walks by. He does not see her. She is too weak and shy to call out his name.

––

When Caroline looks up, she catches Jordan looking at her, but he suddenly looks away and then timidly looks back to see if she is still there. His eyes lightly twitch in embarrassment as she quickly continues to work. Jordan thinks she must hate him. Caroline thinks he must think she hates him.

––

The only food she can cook is pasta. And when she does, it is consistently fantastic. He takes the large wooden spoon in the pot and serves each of them a portion. He smiles a small, timid smile as she starts to eat. Finally a day when she has a good appetite. It has been a while since she ate like that.

––

They walked in the dusk when it was past fall but not yet winter, in the restlessly unpleasant pre-holiday atmosphere that choked the street. They felt nothing – no fear, no joy, no sadness. Or perhaps only sadness as a result. They stepped slowly. He was holding the leash, she was holding him in one hand and the umbrella in the other. The air got darker with each heavy breath but they kept going. They were running away in a loop. Running away from themselves, their pasts, their futures. From me. I saw them wither in the wind, losing their balance on the downhill path, being pulled forward forcefully. What was pulling them?

––

Her chin is pointed down. Un-kissable.

––

The room is dry in colour and in ventilation. There is only arid heating in the desert-like hospital offices, with patients and nurses walking by in the hallway, peering in from one desert into the other.

––

A man with a hat covering his entire head is reading a book slowly; not because he is a slow reader, but because he keeps looking up to see who is walking by. The man was a musician, they said. Is he bald? I can’t tell. He looks ill. Or unhappy. Or both.

 

/michal