A Discounted Catalogue


As we descended into St. George Station, Shannon told Ali and I a story about doing a move entirely via transit and becoming stuck in the enclosed turnstiles with one of her bags. Now I wonder how she became unstuck. Instead of asking that I said that I had heard that people get stuck in those turnstiles with their bicycles, that the turnstiles have to be taken apart, that this is a major expense for the Toronto Transit Commission. I hope they know I talk a lot of shit.

I went East and they went West. I got off at the next stop and turned in a direction I’d never gone before. Bay Station is confusing. I found myself outside, on a level below ground, between two sets of glass doors that whistled gently as they closed. There was a patch of snow on the tile beside a somnolent pillar. Is this real life, I wondered. Should I take a photo for my Instagram? Instead I went upstairs. I stood in a hallway and texted Margeaux while a man stared at me from the wall across from a Brooks Brothers. I tried not to look back at him as I walked slowly to the exit, but when I did it seemed like he was looking through me. Like he was tracking my movement but I didn’t exist.

I was only half as far as I wanted to go, but I walked the rest of the way on foot. I felt ugly and sad. I wanted to purchase a gigantic, discounted catalogue of contemporary art, but I thought it seemed too extravagent an object to bring into the tension at home. Maybe, I told myself, I’ll buy it tomorrow and store it in my locker at school. I received a package in the mail yesterday—from Amazon, a birthday present for Cody—and I was so anxious about Peter seeing it that I briefly wondered if I should cut up the box and squirrel it away after it had been opened. Insanity.

Of course I found out later that Peter was the one who had brought it inside and left it on the table for me. Is my life no longer a thing to be lived? Should I dart from corner to corner until I pack my things in boxes and go? Is every happiness to be denied henceforth? Standing on the corner of St. George and Bloor, I thought of my grandfather, once a farmer, now wracked by dementia and stroke. He is dying. When he was more lively my grandfather was consumed not by illness, but by resentment and anger. He beat his children and his partner and hated himself for it. He lived in the same small Quebec town his entire adult life, and he hated his generous friends who would call on him despite his smallness and occasional cruelties.

Peter, I hear how you talk about your friends when they aren’t around and if you are not careful you will become this man. Peter, if you treat others how you have treated me you will be more alone than my grandfather who at least has his uneasy family around him. Peter, I wanted this poem to strike you with a clear and cold vengeance, I wanted to stick you in a turnstile from which you could never escape. God knows that I deserve to. But instead I am sad for you, Peter, sad for your small meanness, sad that time will grind you into pieces, sad to go home and see my grandfather on your face.

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