Do you remember the baseball diamond
beside which we ate naanwich, Liz?
It tasted nothing like butter chicken.
We’d wandered all morning without
eating and hunger revealed to us
the aggression in nearby seagulls.
I loved your light lisp, how softly
you smelled of vegetable broth.
I loved your amateur and terrifying
taxidermy, your slack rabbit. Naanwich
was the last thing we ate before
you said we couldn’t stay friends.
Today I watched it rain and rain
never turning any less grey.
I thought of ways I’d kiss the girl
I like between her legs in a taxi
or an alley. I dreamed of train trips
with married poets to romantic
American cities. I thought of you.
Of your perfect Lord kissing you
on the forehead with a tenderness absent
in my sordid ordinary life. You drew
a church in His glory, painted it
a holy purple people misinterpreted
as burning. But I think it was burning.
I think you were, too. The last
poem I wrote about you came also
during Lent, this grey space that blows
wind and guilt straight through me.
A hymn sticking in my throat
like dry wafer. I still feel warm thumbs
of priests on my head reminding me
I am nothing. Wait, you said, that’s not
all of it. You are nothing if you are
not loved. On bad white bleachers
beside a baseball diamond you said
you could no longer love me. Teenagers
passed by us kicking wet stones.
You couldn’t love me. You turned
up your hood and walked away
into your safe and tender burning.
Kayla Czaga is the author of For Your Safety Please Hold On, which won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry and The Debut-litzer. She lives in East Vancouver and serves beer at the Storm Crow Alehouse for a living (thanks, Sean Cranbury).