i miss the way we used to talk every day, how
you’d tell me secrets, tell me stories, indulge me 
(with attention with smiles with praise with plans)
with all the things we were for each other
all the things we’d be 

you cut off your hair and it felt brave
significant, meaningful
it was something i’d already done a million times before
and together we were unstoppable

you were meek lines and i was jagged edges
and i pretended we balanced each other out
when really i never softened up.
instead the bolder you got the more my barbs dug into your skin
like chicken wire wrapped around an old oak tree
(because even when you cut the steel away, the grooves are still there
the tree keeps growing and the roots get stronger 
but the wood can’t break the habit of moving around that wire)

and i’m sorry that we never did it
we were never great explorers or rockstars or gunslingers
trekking across the great wide everything
with friendship bracelets inked into our flesh

i’m sorry that i don’t call
i’m sorry that i love myself so much that i lost track of you
and i’m sorry that was so hard
to understand
(i can’t explain it any better)

i know you thought i replaced you with someone else
and i guess that in some ways i did, just not the way
that you thought.

i replaced you with me.

i can write heartfelt letters til my hands rust up
cough up apologies and excuses until they
dribble down my chin but in the end i’m still this way
i’m still the same person who left you high and dry
with a gas tank full of dreams
and a suitcase packed with confused resentment

hi, i miss you
i hope you’re doing well.

i miss the way we used to talk

teeth. 4:21 am.


i read somewhere about nerve endings in teeth
and sometimes i think
about what it means
that to be happy is to peel back your gums-
to expose yourself to
cracked enamel and a mouthful of blood

hit me. come on,
hit me.

dogs snarl to signal aggression, discomfort
and every day i smile at another stranger
32 weak spots
on display


i am young young young and i am sitting in the back of my parent’s car, the nice one, old and smooth and caramel coffee colored, so it’s before we lived in the white house with the dog who chewed the seat belts out. it’s cold out but the windows are down so that my dad can smoke and my mom is driving. my mom is nearly always driving. she says she’s a good driver and i believe it because she tells me so, even if my dad seems to think otherwise. i am sitting with my baby brother and it’s almost dark but not quite and we’re only alone because the road has been empty of hitchhikers. there’s mountain air on my face and my eyelashes and everything smells like cigarettes and incense and baby powder and i will fall asleep in this car. i will wake up in this car, and this feels like my forever.

i am five and i’m sitting on a couch that’s yellowbrownorange. it matches the tiger that came in the baby cookie box that we buy for my brother that sits next to me. there’s a gap in this apartment where my father should be (but when i think about it i know he is somewhere, i can picture it, a dirty white room, laughing or talking in low voices with a skinny dirty man whose smile is sad and sincere and keeps a pet ferret on a leash). my mother’s hair is shaved short and there’s a ring in her nose that my great aunts fret over. she sings along to the cassette tape on the chunky black stereo and she kisses my brother’s face. she’s beautiful and perfect and when i look up again her face is obscured by a video camera. “erika! say hi!”

the backyard of this house is attached to a playground before it disappears off into forest and mountains. in the wintertime i get my lips stuck to the safety bar above the slide and rip the skin off, scream at the blood dripping down my chin because i was too impatient to wait for my dad to return with a warm washcloth and unthaw me. late at night my parents shake me awake and carry me to the window and all three of us watch the bears try to get into the garbage bins that line the fence until i fall asleep again.

in kitimat there are relatives that kiss me and scold my mother for taking the lord’s name in vain and a cousin with a collection of sparkling, shining bath beads. she gives me one and i keep it with me in my pocket, a secret gem i show only my mother.

and here are the gaps: an apartment with off white walls and my mother’s harshly bleached orange hair and telephone conversations that ended in shouting matches but a christmas that sparkled with poverty and love and family. my father is here in flashes only and i can’t remember my mother touching me though my visions of her are happy and bright so she must have done. was this before or after the plane?

we leave the mountains and end up here, where we walk everywhere and there are peonies in rich people’s gardens instead of sunflowers and heather plants lining the road. it’s bright blue and my mother is growing her hair out and my father plays any ball game i want with me up against the garage door, or out in the field around the corner, baseball and hockey and tennis, even, because we found an old racket somewhere. my brother and i share bunkbeds and when the fighting gets particularly bad we lie in the bottom together and i hug him to me and pretend that that means he doesn’t hear the same things i do. later they’ll both tell me details, my dad while we sit on the front step together and watch the cars go by “she tried to strangle me, pook” and my mother when i crawl into bed with her after she’s forgotten to get up again. i take a picture of both of them together on a disposable camera that my nana gives to me when she visits. my mother’s wearing her glasses that i love and my father’s hair is long the way it used to be, their clothes dark even though it’s summer and they have their arms around each other smiling, and this is how i like to remember everything. my dad draws the things out of his comic books with fantastic detail, spiderman and venom, and spawn, who i’m not allowed to read. my mother paints skeleton families and bright yellow flowers.

i’m standing in the hallway and my dad has a backpack hitched over his shoulder, dark green and yellow and red (was it mine?) and the baseball hat he’s started to wear all the time now. he’s telling me something, and then my mom is talking. he leaves and i’m used to it, by now, these gaps in my life where he leaves to work or see someone or live apart from us- they aren’t even gaps, not really. i go out to the backyard and i bring my brother with me, my best friend, and i tell him this because he’s too young to remember the gaps and i’m just old enough. if my mother is going to cry i don’t want him to see.

my dad doesn’t come back. the carpet in his basement apartment is the same yelloworangebrown as the couch in BC and an old man i don’t remember meeting but who i know is my grandfather lives above him. when i come to visit him he sits on the floor with his back against the couch and he holds onto me and he cries. there’s a picture of my mom on a shelf above the television. his friends (all skinny, dirty men with sincere sad smiles) come and go and i know most of them by name.

all of this is true.

about a hurricane girl with autumn colored hair.


there are people who mirror you so closely that you’re never supposed to cross paths with them

somewhere there was a swerve and a duck and we tried to make our parallels work when they didn’t make sense to either of us. fingerprints and private battles that matched across state borders and when she’d tell a story i already knew the ending.

are our punchlines simultaneous and if not, who comes first?

i think i was in love with her a little bit, but only in the way that i’m in love with myself.

“there’s a girl who looks like you standing at the bus stop and i pass her every day on my commute. do you think when her mother sits on the edge of her bed and cries, she pretends to be asleep? are her teeth lined with bullets the way ours are?”

parallel paths are not supposed to cross and mirrors are not supposed to break to share space. i will miss her forever but i won’t want her, don’t want her, never wanted her and i know that she feels the same.

the seasons between us speaking feel like safety.

i can only deal with one of me.


You make me feel like my ribs are made of gold and my skin is lace, a little see through, and pretty and familiar. It’s for you that I’ve got sunflower eyes: to match the sky in your irises and the morning in your hair and the summer that hides behind the top row of your teeth when you smile. The best things don’t always have to sparkle but every now and then I think we really do shine.


we are fire escapes and black coffee,
climbing old buildings
and burning cold mouths
with sharp and bitter kisses

we live in hazy shades of familiar grey:
like speech slurred by sleeping pills
and four am breakdowns and recoveries
and letters smudged with rain written up in the mountains

we’re silent “i miss you”s on hesitant tongues
phonelines pulled tight on cracks of laughter
and we’re the safe smell of cardboard packages
and “you have to know what i mean and not what i say”

well baby baby baby you know i’ll always try, but
even when i don’t
my fingerprints are still yours to keep.


The poems led me to think that your skin would feel like roses and silk; delicate and soft and easily bruised, but there has been marks there since long before I came along. Your fingertips are scabbed and your eyes black and blue and sometimes when you turn over in the night the pillowcase catches on the chips in your mouth and becomes stained with your blood.

You’re my hurricane-baby, born of the dirt and the grit and the back alleys where good girls don’t go. When you grin at me it’s like I’m in a fast car without any brakes, or a pick up truck speeding down a dusty old hill towards the drop off into the lake. I could die die die at any moment, but at least it’s better than being bored.

My heels aren’t as high as yours and my breath tastes like mint, not whiskey. Or like strawberries sometimes, if you had a sentimental moment and brought them home from the farmer’s market because you remembered how I love the color. That’s when you kiss me the most, and laugh and laugh at how my fingers shake against your neck, at the noises I make when you push my wrists above my head.

And then sometimes you don’t come in until I’m already in bed. Your perfume is cheap and heavy and your hair bunches around your freckles in wild dark curls and it’s hard to tell if you’ve been out fucking or fighting or both, but you hum when you slip under the covers next to me, press your bloody lips to the back of my neck, and I slip farther into love with you like I’ve been doing it my whole life. I hope to.