Fifteen minutes sitting at the table next to the mirror, waiting for Noor. There’s no wifi and we may have to leave when she arrives. I’m happy to be reflected in this way, I mean out of the corner of my eyes, I mean this screen reflected, my fingers typing, though I hate now to look at my own reflection directly. But the subject of the book I am writing at the moment is just this sort of glancing irritation. 

Two weeks of working with Noor whenever possible. 

Should have realized that it would be painful to take the train to Jane, to visit a station I have not seen since the summer. But what is not painful? What passes smoothly? Last night I was jittery on the squash court, swinging wildly, often well off the mark (though twice I almost sent the ball into Mark, my conveniently named opponent). But I knew that my fitness level was higher than it was in September, and despite the fact that I was practically radioactive I managed to take two games, including the final one which was for “all the marbles.” 

Speaking of radioactivity, Sunday afternoon after the scare had died down I went for a run, and came back with a strange rash on the lower edge of my stomach. It’s gone now, and I assume it was only the cold against my flesh, oddly lingering even past my shower, but it was easy at the time to wonder if it was indicative of some trace of Pickering floating through the air. But if that was the case, why not my face? Why not my neck? Why not my eyes, or my lungs, or my ears? Why did they all escape unburned? 

I’m at Jane for the book, to remind myself of an atmosphere, a feeling, that exists here. Before the city dissolves itself past Jane station (even as it multiplies itself to the point of illegibility). I’m also at Jane to abide in radioactivity, at least for a moment. At least for now. To let things be a little painful. To feel this radioactive half-life—however I have been burned.

A moment of epiphany at the library. Accept it. Trust. Be patient.

Be like the rock. It does no good to insult the rock. (Not that I feel I have been insulted.) (Perhaps at another time I only insulted myself. Perhaps I insulted you too.)

Hold still. 

What does trust mean in this circumstance? Only keeping an open palm. Not waiting for rain that is due. It may never come. It doesn’t matter what you think, or want. 

Be open. 

I will cease being eager for every signal and sign. 

Perhaps the lure of first-person narrative is the opportunity to see other human beings think. To see how they think but also to see them in the middle of thinking. To catch them in their interiority. This is the appeal of having characters who have spent an entire narrative apart meeting for the first time, the moment represented from both sides. Seeing what is elided. Seeing what is misunderstood. Seeing what has been heretofore misrepresented to us, the limitations of the human subject when viewed from the outside. (Purported shabbiness is revealed to be composure, or vice versa. Confidence is anxiety. &c.) (This can also work for characters who have been separated and reunited after a long and painful journey—we see their sacrifices and so better understand their joy.) These limitations contrast with the represented interiors of the human subject, which are often limitless, or which seem limitless, or are in any case much more expansive than they could ever hope to appear to others. We can reach out as far as we want, but sometimes there is nothing there reaching back to us.  

Inside, the only limit is our imagination—which too often to our detriment is not a limit at all.  

Wondering how the other thinks. A process completely unknowable to us. This is part of the rupture inherent in speech, the cracks that it introduces through the uncertainty of both the abstract and the unknown. (If only we could know for “sure”!—a leap of faith is often required.) In fact, as fiction often chooses to represent, our own thinking is even often a mystery to us. What we want. What we desire. What we deny. What we are doing to ourselves or to others in the name of things which appear real to us but from the outside reveal themselves to be false: duty, propriety, social pressure… The pain, the difficulty, sometimes even violence that results—in fiction it is both easy and difficult to understand.  

Open palm. Keeping your hand still. When I was lonely I used to sit in Queen’s Park, at a picnic table, and try to call the squirrels to me. Until one came too close and took a gentle nibble of my fingers. But it was then that I learned to surround them on only three sides, leaving them room to escape. (I would hope you do not in any sense feel “surrounded.”) Absurdity: to wake up into a world that seemed estranged from reality only because warning klaxons were not sirening. Quick text to my parents: they say to bring water, if you do go, because the pipes have been shut off. In any case 79 km more reassuring than 35. But of course no reassurance of the kind that I desire, even though a later text was sent acknowledging the error. 

On the walk to school this morning thinking about epiphany. Two epiphanies: one unrooted and one tied to action. I have more faith in the second, though the first was en route to the other. But I expected, that first time, that epiphany itself would somehow provide a religious transformation. Enough to return us to where we should be. But how is religious transformation achieved? Only religiously—that is, through continuous action, constant reinforcement and refreshment. Perhaps there are two kinds of lovers just as it is sometimes said there are two kinds of religious followers. Those that love predominantly in an idealistic manner and those who understand the practice of love, the duty that it requires. Both are necessary—but to love completely these two methods (perhaps not distinguished in any other sense than what a person has been raised to, perhaps even often found to various degrees in the same person) must be combined. 

What does Miami mean to me? Pink skies. Vivid greens. I had followed you there. I had wanted to post about it publicly–just to say “I’m in Miami.” A simple statement of fact. But what Miami meant would have been immediately clear to everyone–Miami, its pink skies, its escape and easy neon drama. It would mean I was with you. I said, “It doesn’t have to be such a mess, you know.” And you said–this was a dream, or the closest that a hallucination can come to a dream–something which seemed to indicate that it wouldn’t be a mess forever. That it would, perhaps, work out for us. But that you didn’t have an exact timeline–it was something you needed to explore.

We were in Miami together. You told me to be patient, as you pulled me close to you, wrapping your legs around me–we were clothed but in public, lying on a blanket at a “dock” underneath a bubble of glass, a little pool, and hundreds of chairs set up for seniors drifting in and out of the structure. The kind of architecture that only makes sense in dreams.

The situation, I thought, didn’t make any sense to me, and I told you that. “We’re already together,” I said, “in all but name.” Which wasn’t true. But I thought I could feel it coming. I wanted it more than I had ever wanted anything. Then we arrived at an airport terminal, with two others, a man and a woman. We got separated–in this Miami the airport terminal was like an MC Escher etching, with sudden descents and confounding corridors. From the lower level I could see you walk away, not alone, anxious for you to stop at the nearest escalator. I wanted you to wait for me while I found my way upstairs. But I was strangely confident that, in time–perhaps not even too much time–we would reunite.

Monday

I say I’d like to see you
if we’re already talking
and so close at hand—you 
with Shel, me walking in
circles, slipping on loose
pavingstones—my plan
is to articulate something final
not what I want but, I hope,
delivered in person with an
urgency, a gentleness, that 
on the phone would be lost
it’s not a cold feeling 
but it’s not exactly warm
(I’m expecting, too,
in the twenty-seven days apart,
from you new coolness, new 
distance—making your escape)
but when I round the corner
it’s obvious why you didn’t
want to see me: only because 
of what happens when we 
come together. I can tell
right away you want to kiss
but I don’t know what to do
so instead I take the hand
that is offered to me, walk
with you, and Shel, for 
over an hour in the cold
(it’s only the air) feeling
your warmth. when I mention
Gottman you lean into me
so neatly I feel like I’ve
won the lottery. I say
I have to move on, pretend
this is final—but know,
right away that my words
seem empty. I think you
can tell. we make out right 
there. I walk you back
late for my appointment
I don’t know what to say
in front of your door, want 
to say only the perfect 
thing, something gentle but 
also persuasive. I won’t
let go. Shel is wild on his
leash when we kiss. we kiss
again. I don’t want to go 
want you to invite me up
even though I need to leave
instead turn around, watch
you fumble with the door
while Shel tries to pull you
to the backyard. looking
at your face before you
turn around, I think, “is 
this the face of the woman
who will break my heart?”

After months of testing and research the scientists came up with a new model for simulating wave erosion on concrete pier supports. They presented the model to the lead engineer prior to the construction of the new bridge. The model would, potentially, undo months of work that had already gone into the bridge, work that was unique to the project because the building site had been chosen in haste, with barely a month of public consultation and surveying. An official was up for re-election and they wanted to ensure they had something to campaign on before the end of their term. The river that the bridge would span had both unusually strong wave patterns and uncomfortably silty soil at the place it was to be erected. These had been accounted for but according to the model, only ineffectively: the new model suggested a complete overhaul of the piers. The email the engineer sent to the scientists was polite, but curt: “Your model is simply too new, and remains untested in the field.” They went ahead with the project, even though their initial contractor—alerted to these concerns—backed out. After five months they noticed an issue with one of the piers near the east bank. This presented serious difficulty, as the pier was already supporting a significant length of deck. Upon further review they discovered that eight of the twelve piers were either similarly compromised or showing signs of developing complementary weaknesses. In their report to the official overseeing the project, the lead engineer wrote “it seems likely that we should have taken the revised model into account.” The official attempted, unsuccessfully, to obtain additional funding to complete the project, but by this point the cost overrun and delay in construction had already become a major local scandal. They were defeated in the next election, and the bridge was left incomplete, with major cracks in the concrete eventually exposing its steel foundations, buckling appearing on the surface of the bridge. Five years later two teenagers fell off and drowned while exploring the site with their friends, and the official’s successor raised capital to have the bridge torn down to the level of the piers. Though they have lost nearly all structural integrity, many of the piers miraculously still stand—they can be seen to your right when taking the western detour into town, or on your left as you are leaving, looking over the traffic coming from the opposite side.

everything reminds me of you
neighbourhoods, tea, tahini
my own bed, couples in love
cooking ambitiously, cars, coffee 
dogs being walked, dogs in coats
books, certain sitting positions
yoga, kale salad, mayonaise
couples holding hands, kissing
the weather, riding my bicycle
reading, watching television
my cats, somehow, going to bed
brushing my teeth, waking up
going to sleep, decaf, desert
landscapes, landscapes, news-
print, talking to everyone I know,
places I’ve never been, places I’m
visiting for only the second time
movies that were just released
empty rooms, curtains, the snow
when the weather changes for the
better and it is spring, suddenly,
telephone conversations, dusk
early morning, sunlight, wind
showers, birthday cake, mirrors
toothbrushes and toothpaste
getting undressed at the end
of the night, the i Ching, tarot
drinking certain wines, a certain
slurred way of speaking when
one is tired, the movie Roma
the movie Little Women, Greta’s,
only just released, dancing, t-shirts,
white, and t-shirts, blue and torn
orange light reflecting off the tops
of residential buildings, light
passing through windows, cast
against walls, mirrors, straight
handlebars on elegant bicycles,
almond milk, five percent cream
and ten, kasha, sidewalks, puddles,
chapped lips, fogged glasses,
long drives, wines, looking far away,
listening to music, not listening,
the woods, the future, getting excited
making plans, doing yoga, not doing yoga,
throwing a ball, throwing a frisbee,
wanting to argue, not wanting to,
lying on a couch, dinosaur toys,
instant coffee, elaborate pancakes
(an assortment), talking to children,
not talking to them, reading,
not reading (even not reading),
falafels, Portuguese egg tarts,
burgers, not eating burgers—
never eating them, the fall, leaves
changing, not changing, despair,
love, songs neither of us have ever heard,
corn chips, smoothies, therapy,
leaning, not leaning, pulling,
pushing—it’s hard to not think
of you, to imagine a life where
we are not in contact in some way,
where remembering is an act of will
rather than simply proceeding
through life, seeing you wherever
I look. but I’m also worried 
according to the fear of Socrates
who trusted memory and distrusted 
books, that in writing this all down
I will forget where it came from
until all that remains is an empty
list, no longer populated. no longer
meaningful, or alive. so I’ll stop.