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1 poem

by Tess Liem

Tess Liem is a queer writer living in Montreal, Tiotia:ke—unceded Haudenosaunee and Mohawk territories. Her writing has appeared in Plenitude, Room Magazine, PRISM, and elsewhere. Her debut collection Obits. (Coach House Books) was nominated for the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry in 2019.


I hide in my own shimmering while S. holds a plant

and their camera. On an it’s-not-the-heat-it’s-the-

humidity kind of day we slugged ourselves to Jean-

Talon market to buy herbs and succulents. I

remember  myself as a crystalline lens swooning

light.        Ready or not, here I rest.        Exchanging


nothing for nothing halts our intention to buy. We

leave hangry. They ask me what’d you wince

through to arrive here already obliterated? except

that’s not what they said.        I want them to know

I am not a tide.   Except I can’t afford a property big

enough to hold all the ways I’ve changed.     I didn’t

wince—my myths were more casual than that.

                                                    You couldn’t pay me


too much for the details of my first kiss. Then two

ID photos of myself expired and renewed: the

subject of a third photo.     Does this haircut make me

look gay enough?         I tell them I only left the

prairies because of the way it folded me up; or that’s

why I wasn’t asked home.          The iris of my eye

was always itchy, making wanting seem like

darkness stitched to other darkness.

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