Jody Chan

the podcast defines nostalgia
+++++++++++— for Amil

as a defense mechanism, an escape
from present dissatisfactions to the past.
you explain this to me over herbal tea

& chickpea stir-fry in your kitchen, the roof
strung with saggy balloons from an ex-roommate’s
birthday party — nostalgia’s utility & how birds

would foliage the air with their good-morning
songs as your grandfather walked you & your brother
to school, back home in Guyana. I mean home

like a metaphor, I mean maybe this overdressed kitchen
on Cecil, where we amble through nature documentaries
& Hong Kong classics, a film club of two. missing

the point, I tell you I want memories for my future
nostalgia to latch onto. I have a habit of falling asleep
on your couch while you toss exclamation marks

into the air over tree frogs & cinematography.
forgive me. time with you tends towards ellipsis,

the exact right amount of distance between words.
I haven’t been sleeping well, lately. lately my brain

is a toddler throwing tomato sauce tantrums
into every stillness, except here in your kitchen, your
presence quieting the racket, painting the walls clean.

sometimes, restless, we trudge the hill to Casa Loma.
with Spadina splayed beneath us like a star-hemmed
scarf, the night elongates into a single runny sentence.

every morning, you say, you wake up missing everyone.
missing the point, I muse that memories are just films
told from a first-person point of view. Amil, in this

movie, you are the breath before the soundtrack’s
final chorus, when the melody grazes a higher octave.
or, you are the whisper of the drummer’s feet, tapping

on the floor to keep the beat. this is to say, I think
the song would fall apart without you. Amil, don’t miss

me. this night will end. tomorrow’s night will end.
but you, more than anyone, are fluent in the silent
spaces between one world & the next.

supporting evidence, seventeenth floor

the bedspring whispers, four creaky jambs; a haunted
house after the actors have left.

my palms pray into the pillow, wrists bent double.

the slats, long cracked, cave to our weight.

past the window’s shatterproof glass, a city’s anonymous dark; penetrated
by light, proof that life goes on for other people.

an empty socket sparks. dreams
split; ghostless, until morning.

Jody Chan is a writer and organizer based in Toronto. They are the poetry editor for Hematopoeisis and the author of haunt (Damaged Goods Press, 2018) and sick, winner of the 2018 St. Lawrence Book Award. Their work has been published in Third Coast, BOAAT, Yes Poetry, Nat. Brut, The Shade Journal, and elsewhere. They have received fellowships from VONA and Tin House. They can be found online at https://www.jodychan.com/ and offline in bookstores or dog parks.

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