A selection of 3 poems by Dessa Bayrock

Fiction, Fresh


A colleague cried this morning, and not for no reason.
I kneel in front of her and hope her hangnail will stop bleeding.
The only other thing I can think about
is that the tiny gem of her nose ring has rolled inward.
I wonder if she will fix it. I wonder if she will stop crying.

I have come here from the tax office,
which I paid one-hundred-and-thirty-three dollars
to tell me I owe one-hundred-and-ninety-one dollars.
I am tired of being poor. It is snowing. Again.
My shoulders are covered in miniature drifts.
Ostensibly, this is spring.

A man on the bus wears a hat that reads YA NEVA KNOW.
The woman beside him has hair like wheat, like popcorn.
I want to put the ends of it in my mouth. I want it to taste salty.
I want them to love each other. I want the world to make sense.
No, I don’t suppose you ever do.


It is the hottest day of summer but I can’t help but think
it was worse a year ago. I remember feeling betrayed
by my climate, my body, some combination of the two.
I remember being unable to breathe; I remember feeling
the season was sitting on my chest, and laughing.

But now, here, the heat touches me only idly, like a curious child,
an offhand lover, a doctor. I am surprised to find myself sweating.
I am surprised to trace damp patches on my skull, my back, my arms,
my knees. It is an unlikely summer, an unlikely tolerance,
and I am distant from it all; I am removed; I am above

Deep in this impossible season, I dream I am haunted by the heat,
the hell and the hum of it, the heady raw weight of it. I drift
from room to room like a ghost, seeking relief and finding none
and when I throw open the curtains I see, impossibly, winter ­—
summer sun beating down on snow that refuses to melt

but stands in drifts against the rooflines of the neighbours,
glittering in the heat like a smile. Impossible! Impassable!
I dream I am tossing and turning and standing at the window;
I dream I am sweating and dripping and seething in the yard;
finally, I dream I am burying myself in the snow, rooting myself

down into the heart of it, the base of it. I am desperate, now;
I am boiling alive in my skin. But the snow is barely cold at all,
only rough and raw like salt. Still I dig down, until I can go no farther.
I am no cooler for my trouble: merely buried, weak, and dreaming.
(And isn’t that always the trouble? That dreams are so rarely revealing?)


The province has forgotten itself, rain pelting down
in a storm better suited to the coast, the prairies.
No one in this city knows how to deal with the weather.
A man outside slips and falls and hits his head,
and a stranger tends to him, running into my coffee shop
to fill a glass of water, gathering up a clean cloth
to press to his scalp. I watch a paramedic approach her,
palms outstretched, casually comforting, but I can see
by the line of her jaw and the tilt of her head
that she will refuse to leave.

We are quick to form attachment.

Me, I take a new way home: eyeing up apartments
on unfamiliar streets, and wondering where I will live,
in the fall, when my lease ends. Roots cut. Wandering.

What is the universe trying to tell me, anyway,
with this impossible rain? This storm is full of omens:
Four women with identical umbrellas pass me in a line
before parting ways at the next cross-street;
An empty double-decker bus blows by, empty, except
for a single man on its lower level, head blonde and bowed;
a primrose extends a delicate limb over the sidewalk
at the exact height of my face, knocking into me like a bird.
I drink it in, all of it — the city, the storm, the blossom,
and most of all, the way the perfume of dying petals
mixes with the rain, overruns the gutters, overflows the streets,
and bathes my head and shoulders with a scent as thick and as coppery as blood.

Black tri-dot

Photo by Marvin Herrera Photgraphy