Toronto / To and fro

Toronto / To and fro

Chapter 1: 

As I get into the subway station
My body remembers conflict at turnstiles
Screaming and crying
Between the click clicks
A person I used to be
As if an old skin had returned to me

I walk these streets and I feel her everywhere
Like old cobwebs I somehow can’t avoid
I hear her thoughts in my mind
My worldview narrows to meet hers
And I wonder how we ever got there
And how we ever escaped

Threatened by everything
Unstable territory
Flinging myself at the sidewalk
Amidst strangers
Desperate for an interruption

I see Hims everywhere
In flashy watches and tight pants
Canada goose coats
Leather shoes
Canadian fashion
Modelled after Justin Trudeau
As if an outfit could make a feminist

People say “sorry”, “sorry” to me everywhere
Like I do in New York in exchange for weird grimaces
I wonder if it’s the city asking for forgiveness
Or if I’m wishful hearing things

I’m nervous
I have something to prove today
Can I be with me here now?
Am I enough?
What have I learned?
Was it worth the trip?
How to go back now
To a war zone that looks like a city street
What face can I bring to face this place?


Toronto / To and fro
Here I’m back
To finish this poem

Chapter 2: [Six Weeks Later]

The streets are heavy
But they feel like home
The air holds less pretence here
We all know we are deeply hillbillies inside
Even in the city

Stakes are low
Smiles are easy
People think differently here and I can feel it
I remember when I used to be one of them
Everyone takes a little more time
The woman on the subway sitting next to me is reading more slowly
Than the woman on the subway in New York

In New York, there is a sense that everyone is going somewhere.
Here, there is a sense that everyone has just come from somewhere – home.
Maybe it’s the toques and scarves – a sense of being bundled.
Human presents
Venturing out to where you can see your breath hit the world
To meet it.

I would become a different person
day by day
If I lived here.
I am deeply aware of that in this moment.

It’s like one half of me belongs in one place
And the other, the other.
I have othered myself.
But which half?
Top half : New York
Bottom half : Canada
Right brain : New York
Left Brain : Canada
Outside : New York
Inside : Canada

I’ve read that belonging is the most important human emotion.

Toronto / To and fro
Time slowed down
But it’s time to go.

Until next time,


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