It’s a blessing, isn’t it? To be able,
days at a time,
to forget what we are.
– “Blood Honey,” Chana Bloch
Two friends in two weeks, this time.
Heart attacks, both under thirty.
You scoop me up from the airport with
an armful of calla lily, hydrangea,
purple starburst —the last from a spontaneous
wedding, the florist said.
I need a shower, coffee, a good cry
and my keys, forgotten in the old house.
Will have to stay with you a while, secretly
glad for this little bracket of time, minor
threats of worry, creeping minutia—
if I’ve parked your car badly, the ex-girlfriends, the card
game your parents like with the unpronounceable name,
my menstrual blood on your carpet, even the walruses shoulder
to shoulder on ice. The alarm wakes us both
early into this dull hangover, how
distinctly not good we feel right now, into
the head rush of actually waking, temporary
privilege of anxiety, novelty of detail, reaching
past you and forgetting to listen, just
a moment, for your pulse.
Summer of saltwater pools
along the ocean, where I try to explain mikvah —
blood, how they call me
niddah and you, a shiksa.
Your necklace of silver
wings, forearms golden from six weeks
of Sister, cover yourself.
The reunion shot—you in short sleeves,
no hejab, a beer in one hand
and me in the other.
The summer you learn shayne meydele
while I practice azizam, eshgham.
Where we’re never named forbidden, only just
how we touch each other.
when we cuddle after
and I curl my feet into
the soles of yours,
we are treyf and haram
at the very same time.
Last Dinner At Your Parents, For Now
We drive to the inlet at golden
hour. There’s a rainbow, and we take it
as a good sign. That and the frogs,
cheering so loud outside the dark column
of your parents’ window. Baba ab dad.
Sara anar dad. It’s easier to say pomegranate,
hyacinth in Persian. To say it burns me but not
ice cream. Turtle is easier to say than frog. It is easier
to say a lot of things than
can I take a picture of your passport, where do I hover
while you hand over your credit cards and ID
to your parents, while you purr
at your old cat for the last time.
What does that mean? I keep asking.
That just means kitty. It just means
cat. I know seven sounds for cats now
in Persian. Also, how not to say testicle. That too.
It’s important to laugh. We make a lot of jokes
about the Messiah, and we laugh. Don’t go
to jail for something stupid. Make it good.
It will be the kilogram of quinoa in your
suitcase. It will be the rainbow on your keychain.
Don’t make me call and say I’m your tattooed
Jewish cousin. I start counting
twelve hours ahead, how many times your parents
call you back, say Khodahafez, how long it takes
for your dad to call you on the way down
from the apartment — someone in Iran wants
electronic cigarettes, how long it takes for him to drop them
over the balcony into your waiting hands, the frogs
in chorus, your dad holding the phone to his ear
while you look up and catch
Leah Horlick is a writer and poet from Saskatoon. A 2012 Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry, her work has appeared in GRAIN, Plenitude, Poetry Is Dead, So To Speak, and online at Canadian Poetries and The Collagist. Her first collection of poetry, Riot Lung (Thistledown Press, 2012) was shortlisted for a 2013 ReLit Award and a Saskatchewan Book Award. She lives on Unceded Coast Salish Territories in Vancouver, where she co-curates REVERB, a queer and anti-oppressive reading series. Her next book, For Your Own Good, is forthcoming from Caitlin Press in spring 2015.
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