asymmetries
Nicola Cayless.
Looking for light in words.





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stealing winter

With leaving,
I am stealing winter.

There is talk of snow
on windowsills,
ice on roads;

black ice, hidden
until after we have
crashed. They look
to the grey skies

and count clouds.
Perhaps they can
divine from the sky
whether it will snow

again. But I am taking
the cold in my heart,
and I won’t see snow
again.

calling you three times and hanging up four

It is three in the afternoon, which means
I am thinking about you
thinking about me.

Because there are knots all over my back
and I think that maybe each one is a time
I woke up and you hadn’t thought of me
                                                               all day,
                                                               maybe.

I would ask but there are more important things,
like tea on the stove, like walking the dog, buying gas,
thinking of the ‘bigger things’ which are really just
trivialities with egos.

And while I make dinner, you ask how I am,
but I’m too busy tying knots in my tongue
to answer.

this began as a letter to you, but now it’s a letter about what I wish you were thinking

It is snowing outside and I am thinking
how nice it would be if my insides
were as white as the world.

You could walk along my bones
and leave footsteps. Like bread crumbs.
Like morsels of love that I could follow
when I am scared. 

Instead if you walk inside of me,
you’ll tread blood into the carpets,
and that’s a mark we’ll never get out.
I don’t want you to be mad at me
for staining everything we’ve built
with the broken parts of me.

Last night you whispered,
you know you can tell me anything.

I wonder if that means I can tell you
about how I would touch your mouth
with my hands until you swallowed them,
just so I could be touching you
all the time.

I am finding things deep in my pockets.

I am finding things deep in my pockets,
things that remind me of you: string
that I tied around my ring finger to remember
that crying when stumbling home was a bad thing,
a bad thing. A seashell from the beach of Avalon,
bone white, bone cold, the colour of me, you said.

I am emptying out the corners of my life
and finding sand, still, and it itches and it
burns. It finds its way into the creases
and cracks, and no matter how many times
I take long baths and try not to think,
you’re still somewhere hidden.

But I have spoken to the elderly lady
down the street. She runs a laundromat
and she fell in love with a boy like you,
once. Forty years ago, he had blonde hair
and sea blue eyes and he was made of ice.
He melted into her and deep within him
was dirt. 

I will run you through the washing
over and over. I will sleeplessly pour powder
over my body, and I will not rest
until I remember what it feels like
to be clean.

how to make tea for a loved one

At three am I ask you if you want tea.
You tell me you only ever wanted to feel awake,
but now you only ever feel like you are half asleep.

It is cold in your kitchen,
and there are oceans between us.
In them there are crevices that dive deeper
than we are willing to go.

(The dark has always frightened us.)

If I could boil the seas for you, I would,
but when I try to catch the waves, it only ever
runs over the edges of my palms, and I end up
holding nothing.

Instead I build a raft out of gentle thoughts
and well wishes. Sleep on it, my love. It doesn’t matter
if you dream: the moon is our nightlight, and I will
touch your lips with mine when you stir.

Love to you all for sticking around. You cheer me.

Poetry is stuck in my throat.

her name is a hurricane

Like storms,
they brew in me. 

They churn the wind until it is words,
until the leaves of my lungs
rustle, until beyond the night
there is nothing.

But we are locked deep within
our shelters: we call them walls,
we call them safety, we call them
whatever we need to bury far enough
beneath the sand that we cannot feel
the pressure.

Because these words lash like cyclones,
and she is a category five, and she is called
Calliope.

❝ Even though I’ve had many adventures I’ll always have more.

— My boyfriend, in second grade. (I think this is a good way to look at life: to think about the moments of your life as adventures, filled with heroes and villains and the strange and the magical. And to think: you have a whole lifetime more of them. A whole lifetime more of magic, mayhem and beauty.)

He is asleep next to me, with his arm thrown over my stomach, and every so often he stirs to kiss me.