(for Barry)

I prayed for no problems in the city,
my car complaining more now
than it used to, nagging
warning lights marring the dash.
You tell me to turn right, then left
at the next lights, now try and sneak over
to that other lane, my windows motion-
smeared. There's less room to think
here, less time to breathe –
urban full-immersion.
Spaces crushed into slices of alleyway.
Bloor and College Streets with the same
skyscraping view – lives crammed
like too many coats in a closet, front lawns
shrunk for turn lanes and bus-stops.

A woman in three-quarter length tweed
sighs over her seven dollar Starbucks,
the small called 'tall', as if it's a deal.
Overfilled cups take three hands to safely
snap lids, no room left for whipped cream,
even if we'd wanted it. Traipsing west,
our lids bubble over like hot mud-
springs, spotting our scarves.
You ask about things I've held back –
the way crowds hoard their distances.
I never could just disappear into anything.
In a chapel-sized record shop,
you help me find Jeff Buckley's Grace,
his haunting Hallelujah raising me
from rush hour's stop-and-go.
I hear he was in over his head,
like staring up from the street
to count glassy-eyed floors.

From 'The Better Part of Some Time', (Wet Ink Books, 2022).

Originally published in The Dalhousie Review, (Vol. 91.1), (Aug., 2011).