Saw a woman fall in the park. Took her a long while to get up again. Where I was sitting a little dog in a vest was doing the rounds, yapping at intruders. When his owner called him back he turned to her, skeptically. “He thinks this is his territory,” she explained.
You said you thought we didn’t work. But first you made such a big deal out of it being something you thought I could work out. Said you were hopeful for the change, wondered what things might be like—even for us, a year from the end. “You’ll move on quickly,” you said. “For me, it will be a while.”
The walls that you put up—telling me that I had to accept that I hadn’t been hurt in the way that I had been hurt. Months of knowing you were dating someone else. All the little ways you mingled us together, the things you told me that I wish I could forget, even when you knew I was working for you and no one else.
Maybe you knew you were coming back—that there was something lacking in him, at least then.
But I wasn’t where you were.
Anger grew over me, like briars over fallen trees. And we couldn’t cut it away.
I know you were angry, too. That’s why you thought my bringing it up, in any way, was an attack on you. But it was something that had happened to me, that you wanted to pretend hadn’t happened.
I sometimes wonder how much of that resistance was your guilt speaking back.
We will never know.
Now you’d rather hold me like a sweet dream that turned bad. A distant one.
Coming back across Bloor. Waiting at the light to cross into residential streets. What strange heaviness, what strange dreams. Endless wandering—masks and no masks. We keep leaving them behind, in cramped rooms—we’re in the nearly abandoned lowest floor of some large commercial space, where there is a bar and a coffee shop. Beds on tables. Someone who didn’t want to speak to me—they felt vulnerable because of how things left off. “You have been changed by this.” “It’s opened me up.” Confessions of love. Scrambling in the basement. I can think of many interpretations, contradictory ones. I don’t know what any of it means. Nothing means anything.
Imagined always as a golden current incompletely smeared round the rim of the external auditory canal, a rich brown paste impeding entrance of foreign objects—but as with human blood which I was surprised long ago to learn may be of many different hues until it hits the air, it is impossible to say with any confidence what happens in that dark place where we can’t see inside. When I was in high school my brother and my father had theirs candled—someone lit a wick and in time the wax ran hot and wet, puddling out. Saw this wick always as a generous cone, running evenly down to their patient match heads, wedged in the ear’s entrance, though I never looked it up. I know of course that there are cameras and instruments, external bodies that might be introduced to chart the course of the canal up close, view the golden river’s progress. But I don’t count any of that— how do we not know that when something is inserted it is not changed? The body and its hidden circuitry is ever more mystical than we can ever see. When the results of the ear candling were poured out in front of them, both my father and brother reported finding one long-dead insect drowned in the ear’s sticky honey, a lady bug in one and in the other something I now forget—perhaps another lady bug, as one year they flooded us, animated an entire exterior wall, indoors buzzed from lamp to lamp as we watched TV—or maybe nothing, just more wax, enough of it poured out to be its own insect, its own impediment, a foreign object the body made for itself and no one else