my absolute love, ma clairière immense au milieu d’oubliance
carré des ancêtres, des histoires et des forêts
I have finally told her about you. She had asked why I travel looking for places like you, if it was not more honest to look for the undusted and young (no). And it’s true — I am led across everywhere looking for souls like yours. I have followed my curiosity into castles, hoping for composure like yours. Hoped to find history lounging beside the parliament wherever I go. I listen for Julianna’s bells wherever I am. I swore once, that I saw your face in an opera hall.
I have coyly asked others for their stories about places like you. I have borrowed them, and went on pilgrimage. My grandfather introduced you and I. My favourite teachers have all taught about you. It has occurred to me, only now, that my insistence at taking dates through you has been not only that they can see you, but so that you can see them.
I almost hadn’t realized how closely I had held you. And so, I finally told her.
I explained the welcome.
I explained the beasts. The endless snarling. I explained my favourite forest catches my voice in a bell. My rainy days belong to you.
I told her about the whale — strung up by the spine to the ceiling. About how on my worst days, that is exactly how my sins are suspended. That they hang unadorned above everyone, and are kept to learn. If it were quiet, I would lie beneath the bones, and marvel the memory.
I told her about the languages, breathing. A room away, a gala of carvings. I told her that the room holds the coast. There is, in a way, water here. I dream about you.
I told her about the old town. About the street lamps. The pocket watches — how they spooled from them an inquiry. I accredit you my asceticism for timekeeping.
And she asked if I loved you still — which of course I do. I love your absolute commitment to the future. I love your bowed head when you are wrong, and I am astounded at your humility. I have seen you listen and welcome. I have seen you erupt for introspection and make room.
I am in love with curation. I am endlessly in pause and in ocean with your stories. I coming home to you.
Zoé Duhaime is the former youth poet laureate of Victoria, the artist of the project The Rabbit Writes, a ghostwriter of love letters/apologies/vows, and a student at the University of Victoria.