One of the things that has struck me about moving from one city to another is my relationship to place — specifically, of the rhythm of moving and pausing, speaking and listening, locating similarity and difference.

During my last few months in Toronto, when cycling was my main source of joy (oh, the luxury of unfettered movement!), I started documenting how my movement, alone and with others, differed. Alone, I often collapsed into the familiar: treading the same paths, letting myself be drawn to comfortable places, imprinting my steps. But with others, I felt light: better able to pivot, change courses, allowing me to revel in spaces iridescent with possibility.

This poem is about tracing new patterns and noticing where self and other meet, then bifurcate. It’s about one’s inner landscape, as reflected in the eyes of another, someone both dear and distant: the contours of two lives looping around each other like DNA strands, diverging as soon as they cross. It’s about the kind of closeness that will always be tentative, each point poised to move backward, to sink into its familiars.

These days, when nothing is quite certain, I suppose we are all toeing the line between closeness and distance: knowing when to reach a hand out (metaphorically) and when to break a soft gaze, retreating into that inner life. Like autumn, it is a feeling both tender and bitter.

Photo by Flo Karr on Unsplash

Caught a glimpse:
your outline
wraps a sturdy steel frame,
treading familiar
lines between cold concrete and
lamp-lit living room, where
yellowed spines
clamour
for your undivided attention.

Your eyes, maybe, softened by
afternoon shadows, their
turquoise centres
pool into golden edges
like the space where
waves wash over sand.

Each pedal whirr
carves through air
soft from
fall’s lingering warmth.

Your movement is
focussed;
your thoughts
coherent clear-cut,
sifted from rhythmic circles
of well-oiled chainrings.

Unlike you, I am
unmoored, unwilling
to move in concert
with clean lines.

I am too full:
ideas bubble to burst,
overflowing,
a pot left too long
on hot coils.

Your evenness
marks my oscillations.

So I don’t
catch your eye or
call out a greeting.

Instead -
turn north, into the wind,
up my leafy street,
half-shaded in Equinox light.

My gaze lands on the
faded red brick
of sturdy homes
edged by rustling vines:
caverns of whispers
to those who think to pause.

I coast to stasis,
lean my bike against
this sunbleached fence,
and, warmed by goldenrod, I
bask in this listening.

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

Writing from beautiful Vancouver about muddling through via intuitive movement 🤸🏽‍♀️ place-based learning 🌳 strong coffee ☕️ creative connection✨